Lean and Mean: the researchers used additive manufacturing to created an...
Lean and Mean: the researchers used additive manufacturing to created an integrated multi-axis pressure and temperature monitoring sensor.
Source: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)

A 3D printed multifunctional pressure sensor

Scientists at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology have developed a 3D printed pressure sensor embedded with a temperature sensor from conductive carbon-based composites.

Pressure sensors are important tools for accurate sensing of applied forces. However, they can mostly sense forces along only a single direction. In a study, the scientists take things to the next level with a multi-directional pressure sensor fabricated using 3D printed conductive polymer composites and paired with a temperature sensor for resistance calibration. The low cost of such 3D printed sensors could enable large-scale production of robotic grippers and tactile sensors.

The treatment of many medical issues like abnormal gait and muscular disorders require an accurate sensing of applied pressure. In this regard, flexible pressure sensors that are simple, lightweight, and low-cost, have garnered considerable attention. These sensors are designed and manufactured through 3D printing, using conductive polymer composites as their building blocks.

However, all 3D printed pressure sensors developed so far are limited to sensing applied forces along a single direction only. This is hardly enough for real world applications, which involve situations where forces can be applied along various angles and directions. Moreover, the electrical resistance of most conductive polymers varies with temperature and must be compensated for accurate pressure sensing.

In a study published in Composites Part B: Engineering, a group of scientists led by Prof. Hoe Joon Kim from Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea, have addressed this issue with a newly designed multi-axis pressure sensor coupled with a temperature-sensing component that overcomes the limitations of conventional sensors. “Our multi-axis pressure sensor successfully captures the readings even when tilted forces are applied. Moreover, the temperature-sensing component can calibrate the resistance shift with temperature changes. In addition, the scalable and low-cost fabrication process is fully compatible with commercial 3D printers,” explains Prof. Kim.

Scientists first prepared the printable conductive polymer using multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and polylactic acid (PLA). Next, they built the sensor body with a commercial elastomer and sensing material with MWCNTs/PLA composite filament using 3D printing. The sensor is based on a bumper structure with a hollow trough beneath and employs three pressure-sensing elements for multi-axis pressure detection and a temperature-sensing element for calibration of resistance. The sensor could successfully calibrate both the magnitude and direction of the applied force by evaluating the response of each pressure-sensing element. This bumper structure, when installed in a 3D printed flip-flop and a hand gripper, enabled clear distinction between distinct human motions and gripping actions.

The scientists are thrilled about the future prospects of their 3D printed sensor. “The proposed 3D printing technology has a wide range of applications in biomedicine, energy, and manufacturing. With the incorporation of the proposed sensing elements in robotic grippers and tactile sensors, the detection of multi-directional forces along with temperature could be achieved, heralding the onset of a new age in robotics,” comments an excited Prof. Kim.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

3D printing nanoresonators

3D printing nanoresonators

Researchers illustrated an innovative approach to developing miniaturized and multifunctional sensors.

Self-powered wearable devices

Self-powered wearable devices

Scientists have created a 3D printing method that integrates functional and structural materials to print wearable.

Aerogel: the micro structural material of the future

Aerogel: the micro structural material of the future

Scientists from Empa were able to 3D print stable well-shaped microstructures made from silica aerogels for use in biotechnology and precision engineering.

3D printed origami technology to fight Covid-19

3D printed origami technology to fight Covid-19

Researchers are replicating the subtle folding of origami to create 3D printable technologies to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

Medical technologies that come out of the printer

Medical technologies that come out of the printer

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's German-Polish High-Performance Center brings additive manufacturing to medical technology – first demonstrators will already be presented by the end of 2021.

Researchers develope sensing robot healthcare helpers

Researchers develope sensing robot healthcare helpers

The Covid-19 pandemic highlights how remote healthcare robots currently being developed could be beneficial in the future.

Microneedles: Nano-sized, huge impact

Microneedles: Nano-sized, huge impact

By downscaling the needles tool to micrometer-size, researchers open even more areas of application for them, while bypassing some of the most important issues.

Designing soft and sensitive robotic fingers

Designing soft and sensitive robotic fingers

Scientists have designed a 3D printable soft robotic finger containing a built-in sensor with adjustable stiffness.

3D printed sensor invented for wearables

3D printed sensor invented for wearables

Researchers have utilized 3D printing and nanotechnology to create a durable, flexible sensor for wearable devices to monitor everything from vital signs to athletic performance.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter