Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have come up with a way to fabricate complex electronic devices using an inexpensive t-shirt printer. The process is non-toxic and simple. The circuits are created by “additive manufacturing.” This is like 3D printers that only put materials where they are need; there are no processing steps required to remove unwanted materials before the next layer is added.
The process uses materials such as silver nanoparticles, carbon, and plastics. It works with a variety of substrates, including plastic film, metal foil, or paper. The result is a low-cost, environmentally-friendly process that can create circuits that include resistors, capacitors, and even transistors. They have created digital to analog converters (DACs) and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags using this method.
This could lead to scalable, on-demand printing of smart clothing and other flexible devices. At a cost of pennies per device instead of dollars, it could make disposable electronics a practical option for a wide range of applications. For wearable Health Tech, it could lead to smart bandages that could watch for signs of infection, and alert caregivers when the dressing needs to be changed.