New 3D printing technology can print electronics in skin to provide chemical sensors for soldiers in combat zones and new treatments for skin disorders
3D printing refers to is the production of three dimensional solid objects from a digital file, which can be created by laying down successive layers of material until the desired shape is achieved. Several additive processes can enable processing of wide range of materials. Researchers adapted a conventional low-cost 3D printer method to include an automatic pick‐and‐place capability. The printer uses computer vision to track and adjust to movements in real-time so the surface on which components are 3D printed is not required to be stationary.
Study demonstrated the use of technology to print electronics onto a human hand and biological cells onto the skin wound of a mouse. The 3D-printing technique utilizes a specialized ink made of silver flakes, which can cure and conduct at room temperature, as conventional 3D-printing inks require temperatures up to 100˚C, which is inappropriate for printing on human skin. This method can have applications for soldiers in war zones, such as temporary chemical sensors or solar cells to charge essential electronics.
The lightweight, low cost adapted 3D printer can be integrated in the equipment of troops, which can print a chemical sensor or any other electronics according to the requirement and once used, the printed electronics can be peeled or washed off. Furthermore, printing skin cells can provide new wound healing treatments or skin grafting. Researchers believe that 3D printing method may lead to new forms of smart manufacturing technologies for directly printed wearable devices on the body and advanced medical treatments.