The art of printed circuit board manufacturing

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A somewhat hackneyed cliché would contend that the worlds of art and science are separate and never the twain might meet.  These spheres – of the scientific and the creative – are worlds apart; and in terms of a Venn diagram, there is no possibility of a shared space between these two disciplines.

Well of course the more evolved amongst us will know that is balderdash.  There is maths behind the construction of a poem, in terms of metre; there is geometry behind art, in terms of balancing shape and colour upon the canvas.  Equally, there is great artistry behind engineering; and creativity necessarily underpins the design involved in printed circuit board manufacturing.

Well, aside from these more abstract examples, there is now a very real example of how these worlds can indeed combine and exert influence upon one another.  And if you wanted to prove the point to any naysayer, you might have have done that by taking that particular person to a recent exhibition at the Design Museum in London.  Yuri Suzuki is a designer from Japan who has always managed to create works that push the envelope, both in terms of art and electronics.  His designs have included a hand-made geiger-counter, a book told via barcodes and a record player with five arms.

For this latest exhibition Suzuki played with something close to our hearts here at Hi-5, using a printed circuit board to recreate the London tube map.  Across this PCB capital, Suzuki managed to include battery, resistors and speaker, etching the results to create an electronic approximation of Harry Beck’s famous map, itself now a proud octogenarian design classic.  All the stations were there but Suzuki also proved electronic engineers have a sense of humour, as beady-eyed visitors noticed Piccadilly Circus had become “Piccadilly Circuit” and “Earl’s Coil” had replaced Earl’s Court.

Suzuki explained via The Design Museum’s own website that the artwork “investigates the workings of consumer electronics”.  And he is indeed a talented electronics engineer as well as an artist,  because the printed circuit board actually doubled as a working radio!  So there you have it.  For over five years Hi-5 has manufactured and sold thousands of printed circuit boards, for any number of uses.  But we are especially impressed PCBs have now crossed over into the lofty realms of the fine art world too!