Gustaf Mårtensson, Jeff Leal, Klara Björnander
Mycronic AB, Täby, Sweden
Rahimi and Jan Maslik
Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Electronics are set to merge with our bodies to extend our perceptions . Smartphones and watches will give way to the bodyNET2 : a network of sensors, screens and smart devices woven into our clothing, worn on our skin and implanted in our bodies. Wearable sensors have recently seen a large increase in both research and commercialization. Most commercial progress has been in smart adaptation of existing mechanical, electrical and optical sensors. This adaptation has involved innovations in how to miniaturize sensing technologies, how to make them conformal and flexible to ease utilization, and in the development of companion software that increases the value of the sensor data.
When it comes to wireless stretchable sensor patches, often referred to as ‘electronic skin’, ‘epidermal electronics’, or ‘electronic tattoos’, there are until today no dedicated commercial equipment for manufacturing of such devices . SINTEC is a European Union Horizon 2020 research project that will focus on demonstrating a novel large bandwidth and low-dispersion sensor network platform by utilizing stretchable electronics and the pioneering Fat-IBC. The hardware development will be on realizing an innovative rigid-stretch elastomer PCB technology using, initially, a two-layer liquid alloy circuit, pick-and-place assembly of advanced rigid modules or components, and encapsulation. Industrial partners will exploit the results in manufacturing technology, Fat-IBC, and in biomechanical and physiological applications of soft and compliant wireless intelligent patches, e.g. in preventive care, sports and fitness, and clinical medicine. In principle, the project is built on the rigid-stretch PCB technology.
It is evident that wearable electronics products offer a myriad of opportunities for commercial and professional use. It will be necessary for these products to be stretchable to a considerable degree which in turn will require an adjusted production strategy for the commercial manufacturing of the products. Rigid printed circuit board manufacturing is a mature technology and many of its modules may be used to produce stretchable electronic products, but complemented with additional and novel production steps. A concept production line has been presented including steps for substrate deposition, inspection, interconnect deposition, component placement, curing and sealing. The SINTEC project has performed initial proof-of-concept studies of the main production technologies and presented a demonstrator in the form of a stretchable wireless sensor patch. The implementation of the tested technologies is being implemented with commercial production machines and will be presented in more detail in the future.
Initially Published in the SMTA Proceedings