The Daily 3D Detail: Here come wearable electronics

Posted by Editor On September - 8 - 2017

Here come wearable electronics

Wearable electronics will soon be available for a variety of industries. Photo by Wyss Institute.

A new 3D printing method developed by researchers at Harvard University has made wearable electronic technology a reality. These “soft electronic devices of nearly every size and shape” can be custom-designed and impregnated in 3D-bioskins.

The recent article in the journal Advanced Materials called “Hybrid 3D Printing of Soft Electronics” available at the Wiley Online Library explains the nuances of this discovery, and how we’ll be able to get one step closer to being cyborgs.

Here come wearable electronics

Everything from fashion to healthcare will be affected. Photo by Wyss Institute.

Through the use of 3D-printed conductive and dielectric elastomeric materials (think plastic skins with internal flexible electronics) and the ability to implant chips and transmitters into the print, the capacity to produce a wearable cellphone or key fob is within grasp.

The wearable electronics are a part of the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering‘s plan to bring this technology to a variety of industries, including healthcare and aerospace, where the need for unobtrusive biosensory transmitters on high-risk individuals such as fighter pilots and astronauts can provide ground crews with more reliable and effective data.

Here come wearable electronics

The key to the process is robotic placement of micro-chips in flexible, skin-like thermoplastic polyurethane. Photo by Wyss Institute.

The research team, led by Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Professor Jennifer Lewis and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s J. Daniel Berrigan, developed the system of 3D printing thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and silver electronic inks with placement of miniaturized chips and LEDs through the use of a robotic vacuum nozzle.

For more on this story see 3DPrintingIndustry.com.