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Metal Printing Offers Low-Cost Way to Make Flexible, Stretchable Electronics


stretchable circuit prototype

A prototype demonstrates the potential of the researchers' technique for printing flexible, stretchable circuits.

Credit: North Carolina State University

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a method for directly printing metal circuits, creating flexible, stretchable electronics. The method uses multiple metals and substrates, and is compatible with existing manufacturing systems that utilize direct printing technologies.

The technique is based on existing electrohydrodynamic printing technology, which already is employed in many manufacturing processes that use functional inks. However, instead of ink, the NC State researchers use molten metal alloys with melting points as low as 60 degrees Celsius.

The researchers demonstrated the new method using three different alloys, printing on four different substrates — one glass, one paper, and two stretchable polymers. During testing, the researchers examined the resilience of the circuits on a polymer substrate and found the circuit's conductivity was unaffected even after being bent 1,000 times. In addition, the team found the circuits were still electrically stable even when stretched to 70 percent of tensile strain.

From North Carolina State University
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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