Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a bionic skin that could enable robots to feel the world around them.
The 3D printer developed by the researchers can be used to print electronic touch-sensory devices directly on human skin.
With such technological innovation increasing by the day, we take a brief look at the progress of 3D printing.
The layers of ‘ink’ used in the technique can set at room temperature, making for ‘endless’ possible applications, from surgical robots to wearables that can detect explosives.
The new process for 3D printing stretchable electronic sensory devices was developed by engineers at the University of Minnesota using a unique 3D printer they built in the lab.
This printer is equipped with four nozzles, to print different kinds of specialized ‘ink’ for each layer of the device.
‘This stretchable electronic fabric we developed has many practical uses,’ said Michael McAlpine, a mechanical engineering associate professor.
‘Putting this type of “bionic skin” on surgical robots would give surgeons the ability to actually feel during minimally invasive surgeries, which would make surgery easier instead of just using cameras like they do now.
According to the researchers, the technique also makes it much easier to transition to practical use, as the manufacturing is ‘built right into the process.’