Wearable tissue heaters can play many important roles in the medical field. They may be used for heat therapy, perioperative warming and controlled transdermal drug delivery, among other applications. State-of-the-art heaters are too bulky, rigid, or difficult to control to be able to maintain long-term wearability and safety. Recently, there has been progress in the development of stretchable heaters that may be attached directly to the skin surface, but they often use expensive materials or processes and take significant time to fabricate. Moreover, they lack continuously active, on-site, unobstructive temperature feedback control, which is critical for accommodating the dynamic temperatures required for most medical applications. We have developed, fabricated and tested a cost-effective, large area, ultra-thin and ultra-soft tattoo-like heater that has autonomous proportional-integral-derivative (PID) temperature control. The device comprises a stretchable aluminum heater and a stretchable gold resistance temperature detector (RTD) on a soft medical tape as fabricated using the cost and time effective “cut-and-paste” method. It can be noninvasively laminated onto human skin and can follow skin deformation during flexure without imposing any constraint. We demonstrate the device’s ability to maintain a target temperature typical of medical uses over extended durations of time and to accurately adjust to a new set point in process. The cost of the device is low enough to justify disposable use.
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