UK team 3D prints flexible wearable “battery”

Researchers at Brunel University have used 3D printing to produce a flexible supercapacitor wristband that they claim could pave the way for a new generation of “battery-powered” wearables.


In a paper published in the journal Materials Science and Engineering, the group, from Brunel’s cleaner electronics research group, claims that its method – which uses a basic open source printer – represents the first time that flexible supercapacitors have been produced through a single continuous process. Existing methods for producing flexible supercapacitors typically rely on expensive 3D laser selective melting machines and use different machines to print different parts.

The printer used in the Brunel project was connected by USB to a syringe driver with a stopper motor that uses three of four syringes to apply stacks of silicone, glue and gel electrolyte pastes to make what looks like a clear festival wristband.

According to the researchers the process is easy to copy and shows that 3D printing using paste extrusion can be used to develop more sophisticated electronic devices with different mixes of paste.

Brunel researcher, Milad Areir, added that the technique opens the way for novel designs for super-efficient, wearable power for phones, electric cars, and medical implants. “If the phone battery is dead, you could plug the phone into the supercapacitor wristband and it could act as a booster pack, providing enough power to get to the next charging point,” he said.