Canadian and Swiss scientists have jointly created a new eco-friendly solution for 3D printing wireless IoT sensors.
According to the scientists from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Empa, the new sensors can be used and disposed of without contaminating the environment.
Team lead and SFU professor Woo Soo Kim said the discovery involved the use of a wood-derived cellulose material to replace the plastics and polymeric materials used in electronics.
3D printing further enabled them to add or embed functions onto 3D shapes or textiles, creating greater functionality.
“Our eco-friendly 3D printed cellulose sensors can wirelessly transmit data during their life, and then can be disposed without concern of environmental contamination,” says Kim.
“This development will help to advance green electronics. For example, the waste from printed circuit boards is a hazardous source of contamination to the environment,” intones Kim.
“If we are able to change the plastics in PCB to cellulose composite materials, recycling of metal components on the board could be collected in a much easier way.”
Kim’s research program spans two international collaborative projects. One involves the eco-friendly cellulose material-based chemical sensors in collaboration with Empa.
The other involves South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), and PROTEM Co Inc, a technology-based company, for the development of printable conductive ink materials.
In this second project, researchers have developed a new breakthrough in the embossing process technology.
This allows them to freely imprint fine circuit patterns on flexible polymer substrate, a necessary component of electronic products.
The SFU research is being carried out at PowerTech Labs in Surrey, which houses several state-of-the-art 3D printers used to advance the research.
SFU Mechatronic Systems/Simon Fraser University