Additive Manufacturing Strategies

UK’s CPI & The University of Kent Team Up to 3D Print a Wearable Tracking Bracelet

ST Medical Devices

Share this Article

3dp_cpi_logo3D printing has unquestionably changed the way that all of the products that we use on a daily basis are designed and manufactured. From product development using rapid prototyping to small scale production and manufacturing, more industries than ever are using 3D printing to make better, and cheaper, consumer goods. One of the end goals of the 3D printing industry has always been the ability to print entire, market-ready products that incorporate ready to use electronics using multiple material 3D printers. While our current capabilities make that advancement still a ways off yet, several leading universities and high tech companies are paving the way.

Thanks to a collaboration between the UK’s Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and the University of Kent we have taken one step closer to 3D printed electronics. The duo 3D printed a bracelet that combines the latest 3D printing processes with advanced antenna and RFID technology. The University of Kent took charge of the design and 3D Printing of the wrist band, while the manufacturing of the antenna component was 3D printed at CPI’s National Centre for Printable Electronics.3dp_cpi_aerosol_metal

The University of Kent is considered one of the leading centers of development of antenna and RFID technology while CPI is at the forefront of advanced electronics 3D printing technology. The goal of the collaboration was to create wearable products capable of being 3D printed quickly with little to no assembly that were capable of acting as tracking or identification devices. The design would allow for use-specific customization, from patient bracelets to be used in hospital settings that connect to local wi-fi hotspots and then to integrated equipment identification tags. With over 10 years of experience developing antenna and radio frequency technology the University of Kent’s Lecturer in Electronic Systems Dr Benito Sanz headed up the effort on the university’s side.

3dp_cpi_u_of_k_logo“The demonstration of a working prototype represents a significant achievement in the commercialisation of wearable electronics, in this case the integration between a 3D printed bracelet and printed antenna technology. Printable electronics provides a number of opportunities for wireless sensors such as the ability to manufacture antennas that are both conformable and extremely cost effective to produce at mass scale. Moving forward, further developments will focus on the optimisation of the process and the scale up of the technology from prototype scale to pilot production scale,” said Sanz.

CPI is a technology innovation centre that aids high tech startups to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of electronic products and manufacturing and fabrication processes. Their facilities combine science and engineering with state of the art research and development technologies to help their clients understand how their products and technology will perform when manufactured at high volumes, potentially accelerating their production schedule and reducing costs.

The antenna was printed using an aerosol jet 3D printing technique using a type of silver ink that can be formed into geometries that cannot be reproduced with any other manufacturing method. These inks can be printed onto virtually any surface in an almost unlimited number of configurations. Not only will this lower the cost and increase the functionality of wearable electronics that traditionally manufactured, rigid circuit boards can’t provide, but they can be produced quickly for high volume manufacturing.

The ability to mold electronic components like circuits or antennas will open up an entire host of new design and geometry options for personal electronic devices and wearable technology. It will also allow for the manufacturing of stronger, lighter, smaller and more comfortable wearables that will wirelessly connect to the internet. These devices will be smarter and more interactive while providing a user friendly interface and fit. For instance, perhaps a consumer electronic product like a fully functional smartwatch that won’t cost five to six hundred dollars, will run on less power and can be customized into user-specific shapes and styles.

Share this Article


Recent News

MakerBot Adds 3D Printing Filaments from LEHVOSS to METHOD 3D Printers

Millions in Funding Pushes High-Temp and Composites 3D Printing from Roboze



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing Drone Swarms, Part 10: Mines & Loitering Munitions

As we discuss in our ongoing 3D Printing Drone Swarms series, additive manufacturing (AM) will play an increasing role in the production of all manner of semi-sentient robots. This has been...

3D Printing News Briefs, January 1st, 2022: CES 2022, Standards, Business, & More

Happy New Year! We’re starting with this week’s CES 2022 in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, then moving on to a new AM standard and business news from Roboze and...

Featured

Porsche Invests in Chinese 3D Printer Maker INTAMSYS

The paths of two interesting companies are converging as the investment arm of luxury auto manufacturer Porsche backs Chinese 3D printer maker INTAMSYS. The exact amount of funding has not...

Featured

Formnext 2021, Day Three: 3D Printing and Haribo Golbären FTW

It’s day three, I think. My bloodstream consists almost entirely of Haribo Golbären. I’ve been living exclusively off of things that come in disposable plastic packaging and disposable cups, while...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.