Flexible Wearable Device Like Skin

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Can wearable devices be flexible and stretchable to accommodate the body’s every move like human skin?  The challenge is integrating rigid electrical components on or within skin-mimicking matrix materials, which components cannot stretch and dissipate forces like soft materials do.  The key is the mismatch in flexibility concentrates stress at the junction between the hard and soft elements, which frequently causing wearable devices to fail.


However, a new additive manufacturing technique for soft electronics, called hybrid 3-D printing, has been created by Jennifer Lewis in Harvard.  This technique integrates soft, electrically conductive inks and matrix materials with rigid electronic components into a single, stretchable device.

“Because the ink and substrate are 3D-printed, we have complete control over where the conductive features are patterned, and can design circuits to create soft electronic devices of nearly every size and shape,” says Will Boley, a researcher in Lewis’ lab.


The result is that the method can produce not only sweeping curves and spirals but also sharp angular turns and directional changes written into thin air with silver inks.  This has opened new potential applications in electronic and biomedical devices that rely on customized metallic architectures.


Source: https://wyss.harvard.edu/low-cost-wearables-manufactured-by-hybrid-3d-printing/

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