3D Printed Tattoos Could One Day Power Wearables

Engineers at University of Minnesota have developed a technique to 3D print electronics on skin.

Temporary 3D-Printed Electronic / MCALPINE GROUP/UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Temporary 3D-Printed Electronic / MCALPINE GROUP/UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

A June 6th article from Science News discussed the latest in tattoo technology, and it could have a game-changing medical application. A team of engineers at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis developed a new 3D printer that creates wireless, light-up devices or health sensors directly on human skin, much like a high-tech temporary tattoo. The first application was a wearable LED bulb powered by polymer ink laced with silver flakes.

It only takes 15 minutes for the ink to dry on the skin, and then holding a wireless power transmitter over the printed circuit can light LED. The wearable devices remain active for more than two hours before the user can peel them off with tweezers and dispose of them. The team also printed moisture sensors capable of detecting sweat to indicate stress levels. This breakthrough could one day lead to on-the-body electronics powered by 3D printed batteries.

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