Printing without polymer binders can speed up process of printing electronic sensors
New technology could speed up the way wearable electronic sensors are manufactured. Engineers at the University of South Florida have figured out a way to speed up printing production of electronic sensors by bypassing having to use polymer binders.
Polymer binders are used when printing the flexible sensors that are used by healthcare workers to help monitor a patient’s vital signs.
Not having to use the polymer binders, meanwhile, allows manufacturers to print without sizing limitations and helps reduce cost of production.
The new technology, which was on the cover of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, is able to print the electronic skin for the devices with a corona discharge, which forms a powerful electrical field between the functional powders and non-conductive surfaces that make up the wearable devices.
Using the new technology will allow manufacturers to print the skins for the devices within seconds and without heat. It takes 20 minutes to print the skins using current technology.
The device’s electronic skin is able to measure a variety of different variables, including temperature, strain, and sound.
Ying Zhong, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at USF, said the new technology can transform the manufacturing industry.
“As a new, advanced manufacturing strategy, Corona-Enabled Electrostatic Printing will potentially transform the cost structure for large-area and high-performance electronics and enable versatile applications of flexible, functional systems,” Zhong said in a release. “The technique can help contribute to maintaining the U.S.’s leadership in advanced manufacturing.”
The new printing technique can also be used to improve the manufacturing of a variety of applications, including other forms of health monitoring, prosthetics, and robotics, says Zhong.
Zhong has been given a $308,928 grant from the National Science Foundation to help continue her research.