Stretchable electronic products have great potential in the fields of wearable devices, soft robots and artificial skin.To create scalable electronics, 3D printing is a fast, accurate technology that can build circuits and structures using liquid metal.Recently, researchers have been interested in stretchable electronics based on Ga-based liquid metals (GLMs), which are nontoxic liquids with low viscosity.
The researchers used coaxial nozzles for this process;Outer nozzles are used to extrude flexible silica gel materials and inner nozzles extrude liquid metal.
The core components of the system were a desktop 3D printer, the coaxial nozzle, and injection pumps.
The problem with printing liquid metal is that it comes out as a ball rather than a stream; however, printing it so that it came in continuous contact with viscous elastic materials inhibited that balling. This allowed the researchers to 3D print stretchable electronic components that showed excellent performance when tested. According to the researchers, this is the first time that a new multifunctional stretchable inductance sensor has been produced.