Skin Electronics 3D Printed

Check out this neat 3D printer that draws electrically conductive material directly on a person’s skin, creating temporary, tattoolike electronic devices.


(Skin Electronics 3D Printed video)

Michael McAlpine, an engineer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues used this motion-savvy 3-D printer to construct wearable LEDs. The printer first stuck a premade LED light to the wearer’s skin, then drew a circuit around the bulb using a polymer ink laced with silver flakes, which allow the ink to conduct electric current.

After waiting 15 minutes for the ink to dry, the user could keep the LED lit by holding a wireless power transmitter over the printed circuit. Future on-the-body electronics could be powered by 3-D printed batteries, McAlpine says. The researchers also printed moisture sensors, which could be used to monitor sweat accumulation to gauge stress levels.

The wearable devices stay on for at least two hours, but users can dispose of the prints by peeling them off with tweezers or washing them off with water. McAlpine’s team imagines soldiers toting the compact 3-D printer, which weighs about 1.4 kilograms, in their packs to print chemical or biological agent sensors or solar cells on the fly (SN Online: 4/5/18).

(Via ScienceNews.)

Active tattoos can be found in various sf works; consider the subdermal microchannels from the 1985 cyberpunk classic Stone Lives by Paul Di Filippo:

June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry in the core of Mao/K'ung Fu-Tzu. Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted. The channels are filled with synthetic luciferase, the biochemical responsible for the glow of fireflies.
(Read more about Di Filippo's Subdermal Microchannels)

A similar idea is used in Nova Swing by M. John Harrison.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/27/2018)

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