A very unusual ink-jet printer cartridge, containing explosive ink, has
been patented by Qinetiq, the commercial spin-off of the British
Ministry of Defense.

The ink is a mixture of very fine aluminium particles, each 1
micrometre in diameter, particles of copper oxide 5 micrometres wide,
epoxy varnish and alcohol. The ink is stable in liquid form, making it
safe to print onto conventional paper, but forms an explosive fuse once

engineer can easily sketch out a printable fuse using computer imaging
software, modifying the delay in milliseconds by changing the length,
thickness and pattern of the line on the paper.

ink can then be printed between a small strip of metal and a larger
patch of explosive ink. Feeding a current through the metal strip makes
it hot enough to ignite the fuse, which burns until it reaches the
explosive patch. This explosion can then trigger the detonation of a
much larger amount of explosives.

suggests printed fuses could be used for precisely controlling
fireworks, triggering vehicle air bags or for conventional munitions.
Ganging hundreds or thousands of fuses together could even make a
miniature rocket engine capable of precisely adjusting the orbital
position of a spacecraft, the company says.

Read the exploding ink patent in full here.