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3D Printed Electronics Are Here, Researchers Say


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Researchers used a 3-D printer to fabricate a food-spoilage detector for milk cartons.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and National Chiao Tung University used a 3-D printer to fabricate the electrical components of a food-spoilage detector for milk cartons.

Credit: University of California, Berkeley

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and National Chiao Tung University have demonstrated a method for three-dimensional (3D) printing of electrical components.

The researchers used the 3D printed components to create a milk carton screw-on cap that senses if the milk inside has spoiled.

"We have shown that resistors, inductors, and capacitors can be fabricated using a 3D printer and formed into circuits as passive wireless sensors," says Berkeley professor Liwei Lin.

The 3D printer used for the proof-of-concept prototype had a resolution of 30 microns, and a liquid paste containing silver particles was used to fill the electronic components and interconnects.

The milk bottle cap functions by rotating the carton so a sample of milk gets trapped in the top cavity of the sensor, which formed the top plate of a capacitor.

The researchers next will attempt to 3D print the metallic materials at the same time the rest of the components are printed, using a system that can handle both polymers and metals.

To prove the concept, the researchers plan to 3D print implantable medical devices that can monitor medical parameters.

From EE Times
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