Researchers 3D Print Electronics On Humans

Posted: May 8 2018, 4:16am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 13 2019, 6:07pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Researchers 3D print Electronics on Humans
One of the key innovations of the new 3D-printing technique on skin is that the printer uses computer vision to track and adjust to movements in real-time. Credit: McAlpine group, University of Minnesota

Forget tattoos, get an electronics circuit.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota developed a customized 3D printer that can print electronics directly on a human hand. This breakthrough experiment is first of its kind and has opened the path to a world of new possibilities.

Imagine a soldier in the war zone to be able to print sensors that can detect chemical or biological threats or print solar cells directly on skin that can charge different electronics necessary for navigation and communication.

“We are excited about the potential of this new 3D-printing technology using a portable, lightweight printer costing less than $400,” said Michael McAlpine, the study’s lead author and the University of Minnesota Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “We imagine that a soldier could pull this 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.”

One of the main problems with printing on human skin is regular body movement; however, hard one may try it’s nearly impossible to maintain the same position for a long period of time, and to be able to print on a moving target was a real challenge for the research team.

To encounter this problem the researchers placed temporary markers on the hand of the test subject, the customized 3D printer scans these markers, and while printing using computerized vision it can adjust to the small body movements in real-time.

Another problem with direct printing on human hand was the high curing temperature of normal 3D printing inks, normal 3D inks require a temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius, which can burn the human skin.

To solve this issue the research team used a special ink that was made with silver flakes, this special ink can cure and conduct at normal room temperature.

The printed electronic circuits are easy to remove too, one can peel them off using tweezers or wash off using water.

In another experiment, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and state-funded Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, Michael McAlpine and his research team partnered with Jacob Tolar, a well-known expert on the treatment of rare skin diseases.

Doctor Jacob Tolar is medical school Dean at Paediatrics Department, University of Minnesota.

By conducting this experiment, the research team successfully printed cells on a mouse skin wound, the research team developed a special kind of bio-ink for this project.

Advancement in this technology can completely change treatment options for wounds and skin disorders, imagine if bio grafts can directly be printed on the human skin.

“I’m fascinated by the idea of printing electronics or cells directly on the skin,” McAlpine said. “It is such a simple idea and has unlimited potential for important applications in the future.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/76" rel="author">Jitender Rathi</a>
Jitender is a seasoned writer with an excellent sense of what news are relevant today. He covers a wide range of topics from technology to science. You can follow Jitender on , Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.




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