Low-Cost Liquid Metal Printer

Case ID: 20/0004

Description

Low-Cost Method for Rapid Prototyping of High Resolution Printed Liquid-Metal Circuits and Devices

 

 

Case ID

20/0004

 

Background

Printed electronics have been used for a variety of flexible devices and circuits such as sensors, transistors, and electrodes.  Many of these printed circuits and devices are implemented using conductive nanoparticle inks which suffer from cracks after cyclic deformation. Patterning liquid-metal (LM) circuits and devices is a promising alternative to nano-particle inks, however, printing LM requires expensive equipment to obtain high resolution feature below 50 µm.

 

Technology Overview

Researchers at the University of Hawai’i have developed a novel low-cost method to rapidly prototype liquid-metal printed patterns for flexible and stretchable electronics. The developed setup to rapidly prototyping high-resolution LM patterns costs about $2500. The finest obtained features with this setup was 35 µm while preserving the continuity and edge quality of the printed lines.

 

Figure 1 shows printed LM spirals and lines achieved by 2D printing LM on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrates, the printing conditions (bed temperature, printing speed, fluid flow rate, nozzle diameter) were optimized to achieve 35 µm line width with 105 µm spacing between lines.

 

Figure 1

Features

Easy-to-use: Only require basic experience on using 3D printers

Economical: The entire setup costs about $2,500

Obtain high resolution conductive features: 35 µm with 105 µm spacing between lines

Electrical conductivity of  LM: 2.3 × 106 S/m [1].

Compatible with flexible and stretchable substrates

Liquid metal has self-healing properties

Printed LM circuits can be recycled easily

 

Potential Benefits

The printing of LM is a rapid prototyping method that can create conductive patterns that are compatible with flexible and stretchable substrates, moreover, LM devices can have self-healing properties and can be recyclable. These features can be advantageous for wearable and disposable electronics.

 

IP Status

Utility patent application filed

 

Seeking

Development partner

Commercial partner

Licensing

University spin out

Investment

 

Key Words

Circuits prototyping

Flexible electronics

Liquid metal

Printed electronics

Rapid prototyping

Stretchable circuits

Wearable devices

 

1.       Liu, T., Sen, P. & Kim, C. J. Characterization of nontoxic liquid-metal alloy galinstan for applications in microdevices. J. Microelectromechanical Syst. 21, 443–450 (2012).

 

 

 

 

Patent Information:
Inventors
Kareem Elassy
Aaron Ohta
Wayne Shiroma
Jubeyer Rahman
Anthony Combs
David Garmire

For information, contact:
Rafael Gacel-Sinclair
Technology Licensing Associate
University of Hawaii
gacel@hawaii.edu
Keywords


Categories
Computing
Devices
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