A new 3-D printer builds temporary electronics on your skin | Science News

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A new 3-D printer builds temporary electronics on your skin

You won’t mess up the machine’s design, even if you twitch

By
2:30pm, June 6, 2018
3-D printed wireless light-up device on a hand

ON HAND  A new 3-D printer creates wireless, light-up devices (one shown) or health sensors directly on a person’s skin, like high-tech temporary tattoos.

A new 3-D printer draws precise patterns of electrically conductive material directly on a person’s skin, creating temporary, tattoolike electronic devices.

Unlike other 3-D printers designed to layer material on stiff, motionless objects, the new system uses computer vision to compensate for a moving printing surface — say, the back of a fidgety hand, researchers report in the June 6 Advanced Materials.

Michael McAlpine, an engineer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues used this motion-savvy 3-D printer to construct wearable LEDs. The printer first stuck a premade LED light to the wearer’s skin, then drew a circuit around the bulb using a polymer ink laced with silver flakes, which allow the ink to conduct electric current.

After waiting 15 minutes for the ink to dry, the user could keep the LED lit by holding a wireless power

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