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Polymers 2018, 10(6), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10060629

3D Printing Technologies for Flexible Tactile Sensors toward Wearable Electronics and Electronic Skin

1
Additive Manufacturing Institute, College of Mechatronics & Control Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
2
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Micro/Nano Optomechatronics Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
3
State Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Materials and Technologies, School of Electronics and Information Technology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 May 2018 / Revised: 3 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer-Based Flexible Printed Electronics and Sensors)

Abstract

3D printing has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Over the past three decades, various 3D printing technologies have been developed including photopolymerization-based, materials extrusion-based, sheet lamination-based, binder jetting-based, power bed fusion-based and direct energy deposition-based processes. 3D printing offers unparalleled flexibility and simplicity in the fabrication of highly complex 3D objects. Tactile sensors that emulate human tactile perceptions are used to translate mechanical signals such as force, pressure, strain, shear, torsion, bend, vibration, etc. into electrical signals and play a crucial role toward the realization of wearable electronics and electronic skin. To date, many types of 3D printing technologies have been applied in the manufacturing of various types of tactile sensors including piezoresistive, capacitive and piezoelectric sensors. This review attempts to summarize the current state-of-the-art 3D printing technologies and their applications in tactile sensors for wearable electronics and electronic skin. The applications are categorized into five aspects: 3D-printed molds for microstructuring substrate, electrodes and sensing element; 3D-printed flexible sensor substrate and sensor body for tactile sensors; 3D-printed sensing element; 3D-printed flexible and stretchable electrodes for tactile sensors; and fully 3D-printed tactile sensors. Latest advances in the fabrication of tactile sensors by 3D printing are reviewed and the advantages and limitations of various 3D printing technologies and printable materials are discussed. Finally, future development of 3D-printed tactile sensors is discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: 3D printing; tactile sensors; wearable electronics; electronic skin 3D printing; tactile sensors; wearable electronics; electronic skin
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Liu, C.; Huang, N.; Xu, F.; Tong, J.; Chen, Z.; Gui, X.; Fu, Y.; Lao, C. 3D Printing Technologies for Flexible Tactile Sensors toward Wearable Electronics and Electronic Skin. Polymers 2018, 10, 629.

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