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Electronics 3D Printed Directly on Skin

CNET reports on yet another dazzling new way 3D printing is changing the world.  Researchers from the University of Minnesota have just recently published a study concerning 3D printing technology in the scientific journal Advanced Materials.

In this study, the University of Minnesota researchers describe how they have “placed electronics directly onto a person’s hand using a portable 3D printer they designed and developed, which costs less than $400.”

As Mechanical Engineering Professor and Study Lead Michael McAlpine explains: “We imagine a soldier could pull this 3D printer out of a backpack and print a chemical sensor or other electronics they need, directly on the skin. It would be like a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of the future with everything they need all in one portable 3D printing tool.”

The customized 3D printer even works with moving hands, so the subject doesn’t even have to stay still during the application process.  This is due to the wireless LED it 3D prints with.  “The printer places tracking markers on the hand, which act like a map. It takes a 3D scan of the markers and then adds layers of conductive ink made with silver flakes, which cure at room temperature.”  This avoids scorching the skin, which conventional 3D printers would cause.

Beyond military applications, the University of Minnesota team also explained how “the technique could lead to new medical treatments for wound healing and direct 3D printing of grafts for skin disorders.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the University of Minnesota and CNET

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