We are working on the system and material development for the 3D printing of sensors, actuators, batteries, and electrodes. Our goal is to develop 3D printing solutions for fabricating polymer-based flexible electronics. Standard electronics come with predefined geometries, mechanical properties, and sensitive ranges. Commercial 3D printers generally do not support functional polymers for electronics and, more importantly, customization in materials to vary the specifications. This research will provide a pathway to “make what is needed” instead of “work with what is available”. Therefore, the printing solutions could enable on-demand fabrication, adjustment, and repair of electronics.
Curvilinear 3D Printing of a soft pressure sensor: "Conventional additive manufacturing processes are generally inadequate for printing electronics on a curved surface. When printing a curved functional structure, the typical way of generating the extrusion path only in a horizontal plane could cause various issues such as impreciseness and disconnect in the printed part. We conducted conformal 3D printing of a soft tactile sensor in which curvilinear extrusion paths were generated for the printing of a curved sensor. An extrusion-based multi-material direct printing system was employed to print the sensor, and ultraviolet light was used to polymerize the printed layers. An ionic liquid–based pressure-sensitive polymer membrane, carbon nanotube-based conductive electrodes, and a soft polymeric insulation layer were conformally 3D printed to fabricate the curved sensor on a fingertip model. The conformally printed sensor was evaluated under different conditions. Sensors 3D-printed using conformal and planar slicing processes were compared to investigate the effect of curvilinear slicing on the printed parts. The results show that conformal 3D printing is able to overcome the fabrication limitations of conventional planar processing while also retaining the functionality of the printed structures."