At the University of Texas at Austin investigators have come up with a technique for building flexible electronic skin patches for body monitoring of various electrophysiological signals, as well as skin temperature, hydration, and respiratory rate. The technology takes advantage of a “cut and paste” that allows for bringing various components together using stretchable metal and conductive polymer ribbons faster than ever before. The time to produce such devices has been cut from days to approximately twenty minutes and the team is confident that modern manufacturing methods can be transferred to print out smart skin patches in large quantities.
The production process is a type of freeform manufacturing, which is a sort of reverse 3D printing during which material is removed to result in a final product. The technique does not require a clean room or expensive equipment that’s been used in the past to create flexible electronic skin patches.
A layer of metal is placed over a polymer sheet and a mechanical cutter etches patterns into it. Electronic components are then printed into the appropriate places on top of the polymer.
The researchers tested the new patches, capturing high quality ECG signals and demonstrating high flexibility and adhesion to skin folds. The next steps include trying to integrate other sensors into the patches and moving forward to bringing this technology into clinical use.
Study in Advanced Materials: “Cut-and-Paste” Manufacture of Multiparametric Epidermal Sensor Systems…