Two research institutes in the UK, the Process Innovation Center (CPI) and the University of Kent, work together, Kent is responsible for the design of the bracelet, and CPI is responsible for printing, making people take another step in the realization of 3D printed electronics. Researchers at both organizations used a state-of-the-art 3D printing technology to print a bracelet that incorporates advanced antenna and RFID technology. The antenna section is also manufactured by 3D printing technology.
The goal of the partnership is to create a wearable product that can be quickly 3D printed and does not require assembly. This product also has tracking or identification capabilities. The University of Kent is considered to be one of the major centers of global antenna and RFID technology development, while CPI is at the forefront of electronic 3D printing technology. The design can be used for 3D printing of customized products with special applications, such as bracelets for patients, which integrates device recognition expressions, can be used in a hospital environment, and can be connected to a local WiFi hotspot.
The use of the antenna in the bracelet is the Aerosol jet's 3D printing technology, which uses a silver ink that forms a geometry that is difficult to replicate in any other manufacturing method. These inks can be printed on almost any surface and can be arbitrarily configured. Not only does this reduce the cost of wearable electronics, but it also increases its functionality, which is not available with rigid boards produced using traditional manufacturing methods, and they can quickly enter mass production stages.
The ability of such 3D printed electronic components, such as circuits or antennas, will open up a whole new world of design and development of personal electronic devices and wearable technologies. It will enable people to create stronger, lighter, smaller, more comfortable and smarter wearables. These devices will not only be connected to the Internet, but also smarter, more interactive, while providing a friendly user interface.
Such an available electronic bracelet prototype represents a significant achievement in the commercialization of wearable electronics, especially the integration of 3D printed bracelets with antenna printing technology. Printable electronics bring a wealth of opportunities for wireless sensor applications. The next step of development will focus on process optimization, and the scope of application of the technology will also extend from development prototypes to product trials. Maybe in the future, consumer electronics like a full-featured smart watch will cost less than five or six hundred dollars, and the energy consumption of the future products will be lower. It can also be customized according to the requirements of users.