The development of methods for the 3D printing of multifunctional devices could impact areas ranging from wearable electronics and energy harvesting devices to smart prosthetics and human–machine interfaces. Recently, the development of stretchable electronic devices has accelerated, concomitant with advances in functional materials and fabrication processes. In particular, novel strategies have been developed to enable the intimate biointegration of wearable electronic devices with human skin in ways that bypass the mechanical and thermal restrictions of traditional microfabrication technologies. Here, a multimaterial, multiscale, and multifunctional 3D printing approach is employed to fabricate 3D tactile sensors under ambient conditions conformally onto freeform surfaces. The customized sensor is demonstrated with the capabilities of detecting and differentiating human movements, including pulse monitoring and finger motions. The custom 3D printing of functional materials and devices opens new routes for the biointegration of various sensors in wearable electronics systems, and toward advanced bionic skin applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health (Award No. 1DP2EB020537). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank Dr. Chris Frethem from the UMN Characterization Facility and Dr. David Giles from Polymer Characterization Facility for SEM and mechanical test support. The authors also thank Dr. Daeha Joung, Ghazaleh Haghiashtiani, and Ryan Han for their valuable comments during the preparation of the manuscript.
- 3D printing
- bionic skin
- stretchable electronics
- tactile sensors
- wearable devices