Ever wondered what goes into creating our jewelry? Below are pictures documenting our manufacturing process for the Blue Dragonfly. Even though we are using custom designed circuit boards made in a factory, the journey into a work of art is a highly labor intensive process that takes many days to complete. This will be one of our longer posts, but I promise its mostly pictures.
Here is what the custom designed dragonfly circuit board looks like on the computer screen. Each color represents a different layer of the manufacturing process. The layers include copper traces on top and bottom, printing on top and bottom, solder mask top and bottom, holes, and the board outline.
Here are the boards straight from China. We ordered 10 from itead studio, but as usual they gave us a few extra. So pretty!
Next we start soldering on the components. Marty is placing them with a tweezers.
Notice the grey blobs. That is solder paste, squeezed on with a syringe. Solder paste is metal solder beads suspended in a matrix of flux. It is the same stuff used in industrial board assembly processes.
I actually got a good smile out of him!
Next we bake them in a toaster oven bought exclusively for this purpose (no food!). The toaster oven heats up the boards and melts the solder paste, soldering on all the components at once.
Removing them from the oven.
Letting them cool. The grey blobs have turned into shiny silver connections. Notice the square black solar cell on the upper right that is askew. It walked out of position while baking, mischievous little bugger!
Soldering on the remaining pieces by hand with an iron.
Testing. IT’S ALIVE!!!
Next step is to clean them. They get a good scrub in orange clean to remove any grease or rosin so they look great. I then rinse them with cold water.
Drying over night, hanging from a coat hanger suspended on a lamp. I Fancy. From this point on I must use gloves when handling them, to keep them clean.
Before sealing them in epoxy I cover the USB connector and switch with a really smelly pink silicone. It keeps the epoxy from wicking into these components and sealing them solid.
Sealing it in Epoxy
Hanging them to cure on my McGyvered lamp and coat hangers. The epoxy takes 2 hours to begin to set, and during that time I have to monitor them for drips, removing any so they don’t cure that way. After 2 hours I can stop cleaning them, the epoxy starts to cure, becoming more viscus. It takes another 24 hours for the epoxy to become glassy and hard.
Once they are fully cured, I bonding pins onto the back of the ones that will become broaches.
I also make necklace links. They are neoprene cord with silver cap ends bonded with superglue.
The finished necklace. Matches one of my favorite dresses perfectly!
I caught one of the blinks! I love this one sooo much I don’t want to sell it. Luckily I’m the designer and I can do that. We made others to sell. 🙂
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