Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a new type of elastic ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step, forming stretchable connections. This will enable electronic apparel such as sportswear and underwear to incorporate sensing devices for measuring a range of biological indicators, such as heart rate and muscle contraction.

Currently, printed electronics are very rigid or hard, and can only be printed on plastic or paper substrates.

The research team says the use of soft, stretchable material would open the door for a new generation of wearable devices that fit themselves to the human body.The use of soft, stretchable material would open the door for a new generation of wearable devices that fit themselves to the human body. Source: Someya LaboratoryThe use of soft, stretchable material would open the door for a new generation of wearable devices that fit themselves to the human body. Source: Someya Laboratory

The ink in this method is made of silver flakes, organic solvent, fluorine rubber and fluorine surfactant. It exhibits high levels of conductivity even when stretched to three times its original length. The team says this is the highest value reported for stretchable conductors that can be extended to more than two and a half times their original length.

With this ink, the team built a wrist-band muscle activity sensor by printing an elastic conductor on a sportswear material and pairing that with an organic transistor amplifier circuit.

News Articles:

3D Printed Parts from General Electric Set for Retrofit in 400 Jet Engines

British 3D Printer Targets 2017 Release

Researchers Develop Tough Hydrogel Structures with 3D Printing

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com