Korean engineers have created a small put a 3D printer print flexible electronics on your skin. It is fixed on the arm, back or any desired part of the body and typing on her electronic conductive paths. They can be used to track body movements, touches, or other purposes. The developers plan to give details about the printer at the autumn conference UIST 2020, and yet published a video with examples of his work and a brief description.
In the field of wearable electronics has the concept of electronics it is necessary to directly merge with the body: stick the sensors on the skin or in the longer term, to implant the electrodes. There is also a separate study, in which simple electronic components, for example, sensors of tension or pressure, offer to print directly to the skin with the help of a 3D printer. This is a potentially convenient method, but since printing takes time, and this time moves the print is inaccurate. In 2018 American engineers decided the problem technological: they added to the printer of cameras that track hand movements and compensate for it by shifting the print head.
A group of engineers from the Korean Institute of advanced technology under the guidance of Andrea Bianchi (Andrea Bianchi) used in their new development to a different, more simple approach. They created a compact printer, which can be mounted directly over the print on the body, so that the printing quality is almost not dependent on the movements of the person.
The printer has a simple design. It consists of a frame, which is placed on the skin and pressed tightly to the body by two straps, and the frame is a mechanism which moves the printhead in two directions. The print head itself is also simple: a syringe with a conductive flexible material, and the linear motor on top, which pushes the substance from the syringe.
Before you print the diagram of the printed tracks can be changed in the program. Also before starting the process the printer performs calibration, lowering his head to the level of the skin in different places to understand its topography. Immediately before printing on the skin is necessary to smear the insulating transparent layer, after which the printer will draw on this track, which you can then connect with the electrodes leading to the readout electronics. In addition, while the substance of the print is still wet, you can insert a small rigid components such as led.
The developers have shown some examples of devices that can be printed on the skin. One of them is a sensor of the arm is bent in several places, allowing real-time display the shape of the hand on the computer. Another prototype allows you to control the music volume by moving your finger across the volume slider. The authors also showed sensors of posture, touching the hand and walk away.
In 2017, American engineers printed on the model’s finger mnogokomponentnye pressure sensor using a printer that can one printing procedure to use just a few materials.