Fabric PCB Tutorial

Materials and Tools

Above: some of the supplies you'll need to build a fabric break out board for the ATtiny85 microcontroller.

  • Illustrator file with circuit drawing
  • Supplies for constructing: conductive fabric, Heat-n-Bond, backing fabric, mat knife, iron, mini iron
  • Supplies for soldering: ATtiny 85 microcontroller, LED, resistor, flux, soldering iron & solder
  • Supplies for protecting: epoxy, toothpicks, binder clips, mold components

Create your circuit drawing

This tutorial explains how to create a fabric break out board for the ATtiny85 microcontroller (SOIC package) using conductive fabric, non-conductive fabric, and a laser cutter. Here is the design for the break out board:

And here is the design drawing for the circuit and backing fabric:

Download all of my files here: Attach:fabricPCB.zip. This includes a .ai file with the design and a .ecp file with the cut settings for the different materials.

See the Laser Cutter tutorial page for more information on how to make your own drawing file for the HLT laser cutter.

Constructing a fabric PCB

1. Iron a sheet of Heat-n-Bond onto a sheet of conductive fabric.

NOTE: Now you're ready to move to the laser cutter. Before going through the steps outlined below, you should read through the Laser Cutter tutorial.

2. Place the fabric into the laser cutter, paper side up

3. Carefully focus the laser cutter. Note: appropriate focusing is especially important for these delicate PCBs.

4. Laser-etch the circuit.

Open or import your file. Make sure the cut settings are correct. The appropriate cut settings for the breakout board drawing are:

Etch the circuit. When the settings are right, the laser-cutter should cut almost through the fabric and backing paper, leaving just enough fabric uncut to keep the piece from coming apart. Here are paper and fabric-side views of laser-etched circuits:

And, here's a movie of the circuit being etched:

5. Laser cut the backing fabric.

Here is my circuit (left) and backing fabric (right):

6. Peel the paper off of the circuit only where you want it to adhere to the backing fabric.

7. Iron the circuit onto the backing fabric.

8. Peel the excess conductive fabric away from the backing fabric, leaving the circuit behind.

If necessary, use the mat knife to clean up any funky areas. Check for shorts and broken connections. Your circuit is finished and ready to solder!

Fabric PCBs Part 2: Soldering