Material for customized electronics being developed
Scientists are developing new materials that would enable people to print out customized personal electronics like games controllers that perfectly fit their hand shape.
Researchers at University of Warwick, UK, have created a simple and low-cost plastic composite that can help produce electronic devices, using low-cost 3D printers designed for hobbyists and domestic use.
The material, nicknamed 'carbomorph', enables users to lay down electronic tracks and sensors as part of a 3D printed structure -- allowing the printer to create touch-sensitive areas, for example, which can then be connected to a simple electronic circuit board.
So far the research team, led by Simon Leigh of the engineering department at Warwick, has used the material to print objects with embedded flex sensors or with touch-sensitive buttons like computer game controllers or a mug which can tell how full it is, according to a Warwick statement.
"It's always great seeing the complex and intricate models of devices such as mobile phones or television remote controls that can be produced with 3D printing, but that's it, they are invariably models that don't really function," Leigh said.
The next step is to work on printing much more complex structures and electronic components including the wires and cables required to connect the devices to computers, the researchers said.