Printing Liquid Metal

Flexible conductors printed on elastic materials is possible using a liquid metal nanoparticle filled ink. A new class of metallic nanoparticles is likely to spawn breakthroughs in fields such as: soft robotics, conformable electronics, wireless communications, micro/nanofluidics, wearable/implantable devices, and energy storage and transport systems.

Inkjet-printed liquid metal could bring wearable tech, soft robotics – [purdue.edu]

New research shows how inkjet-printing technology can be used to mass-produce electronic circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for “soft robots” and flexible electronics.

Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes. However, new manufacturing techniques must be developed before soft machines become commercially feasible, said Rebecca Kramer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

“We want to create stretchable electronics that might be compatible with soft machines, such as robots that need to squeeze through small spaces, or wearable technologies that aren’t restrictive of motion,” she said. “Conductors made from liquid metal can stretch and deform without breaking.”

A new potential manufacturing approach focuses on harnessing inkjet printing to create devices made of liquid alloys.

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