How to Use Conductive Paint

Written by richard kalinowski
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How to Use Conductive Paint
Conductive paint lets current flow over nonconductive items. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Conductive paint is used to render the surface of an object conductive. These paints are made by adding conductive materials to organic binders or adhesive resins--in other words, conductive paint is just regular paint with a conductive metal powder mixed into it. If you want to use plastic, glass, wood or another nonconductive material in an electrical circuit, you need to paint it with conductive paint. Conductive paints provide less efficient conductivity than pure metallic surfaces, but when used properly they provide enough conduction to complete most electrical circuits.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Conductive paint
  • General-purpose primer
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Turn off the object to be painted and disconnect its electrical power supply.

  2. 2

    Paint the surface with general-purpose primer applied in one even coat, using a paintbrush. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

  3. 3

    Paint the surface of the object with conductive paint and a paintbrush. Wait at least two hours for the base coat to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply a second coat of conductive paint--the extra coat ensures a thicker layer of paint for better electricity conduction. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • A good conductive paint contains at least 80 per cent conductive material--check the paint's label before purchasing it for the best result.
  • Since conductive paints contain less than 20 per cent resin, they don't stick to unprimed surfaces as easily. To get good, even conductive paint coverage, take the time to prime the surface.
  • Even the wet paint can conduct electricity, so make sure the object's power source is unplugged before painting.
  • Don't try to pass a current through the paint until a full day has passed--even if the paint feels dry to the touch, it may still be wet underneath. Allow to dry for a full 24 hours before plugging the object in again.

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