As demand grows for more versatile advanced robotics and other technologies. The need for components that can enable these applications also increases.
Producing such components has been a major challenge. But now, in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, researchers report that they have developed a way to help meet this need by printing electronics that can fold themselves into a desired shape.
Creating small electronic pieces with specific architectural designs now accomplished with 3-D printing. But the process can be slow, relatively costly and can lead to structural flaws.
New ink with acrylate monomers and oligomers
So scientists working on methods to produce flat electronics which fold after they’re printed. But folding the devices into their desired shapes has required additional processing steps or specific conditions. Such as light exposure or dunking the pieces into liquids, which is not always a good option for electronic products.
The researchers formulated a new ink containing acrylate monomers and oligomers cured with ultraviolet light. Energy stored in specific regions of printed part in the form of residual stress during printing process.
To address these limitations, Wojciech Matusik, Subramanian Sundaram and colleagues wanted to come up with a more practical approach.
After the flat device printed and removed from the printer platform, swelling forces cause it to fold itself into a predetermined shape without additional stimulus. The researchers say the development may have applications in robotics and human-machine interfaces.