Looking straight out of a sci-fi film, researchers from the University of Minnesota have placed electronics directly onto a person's hand using a portable 3D printer.
"We imagine that a soldier could pull this printer out of a backpack and print a chemical sensor or other electronics they need, directly on the skin. It would be like a 'Swiss Army knife' of the future with everything they need all in one portable 3D printing tool," said Michael McAlpine, a mechanical engineering professor.
The printer places tracking markers on the hand that act like a map. It then takes a 3D scan of the markers and adds layers of conductive ink made with silver flakes that cure at room temperature. The video below also shows the printer installing a wireless LED. The device can also make adjustments on the fly when the position of the hand shifts. The electronics can be peeled or washed off when no longer needed.
This ground-breaking technology can also be used with bioink for medical needs. "The technique could lead to new medical treatments for wound healing and direct printing of grafts for skin disorders," the University of Minnesota said.
The device costs less than $400.
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