3D printer prints wearable metal sensing device_PTJ Blog

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3D printer prints wearable metal sensing device


A group of researchers from Imperial College London has developed a new technology through a 3D printer to 3D print metals such as silver, gold and platinum onto natural fabrics. The process can also be used to incorporate batteries, wireless technology and sensors into paper and cotton textiles. This technology can have a variety of applications, including new low-cost medical diagnostic tools, wireless powered sticker sensors for measuring air pollution, and monitoring of the wearer's health.

3D printer prints wearable metal sensing device

This is not the first time that metal has been printed on fabric. In the past, this process would coat the fabric with plastic. Although this is waterproof, it is very fragile. They described in the paper titled "Using metal ink as a metal autogenerator for fabrics for biosensors, batteries and energy harvesting" that researchers can now make the metal ink cover the entire fiber instead of simply coating the fabric. On the surface.

Max Grell, a PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering, said: "Fabrics are ubiquitous. Some forms are like paper. Using this new method of metalizing fabrics can create new advanced applications."

The researchers first covered the fibers in microscopic particles of silicon, and then immersed the material in a solution containing metal ions. This process is called ink autocatalytic metallization or SIAM, and when ions are deposited on silicon particles, it allows the metal to grow in the material. This technology coats metal on the entire fabric, allowing paper and textiles to maintain water absorption and flexibility, while also providing a large metal surface. Many advanced technologies require these characteristics to work, especially sensors and batteries, where ions in the solution must interact with electrons in the metal.

In order to conduct a proof-of-concept study, the researchers discarded the silicon ink on the fabric by hand, but they also said that this process can be amplified and executed by a large traditional 3D printer.

For example, researchers printed silver coil antennas on paper, which can be used for data and power transmission in wireless devices such as contactless payment systems. They also deposit silver on paper and then add zinc to form a battery, and use the technology to produce a series of sensors, including paper-based sensors, to detect genetic indicators of John's disease.

The researchers said that sensors made of natural fabrics are cheaper, easier to store and transport, and can be used to monitor healthy clothes.

"We have selected applications from different fields to demonstrate the diversity and implementation of this approach," Grell said. "It involves a lot of cooperation, and we hope that we have proven the potential of this method, so people who specialize in different fields can develop these applications. The advantage of this method is that it can also combine different technologies to provide more complex applications. For example, it is possible to 3D print low-cost sensors on paper and then transmit the data they collect through non-contact technology. This is especially useful for remote areas and developing countries where diagnostic tests are conducted cheaply."

The researchers proved that, compared with the traditional method, the cost of using their method to make a coil antenna is only US$0.001, while the cost of the traditional method is US$0.05. The team has applied for a patent and is looking for industry partners. The next step is to demonstrate the use of new methods in new applications.

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