Robots can now Feel with 3D-printed ‘Bionic Skin’

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a stretchable 3D printing electronic sensory device, which can potentially armor robots with the ability to feel the environment they are in, and may even go on to help in printing electronics on human skin. From healthcare to wearables to energy, this bionic skin can be revolutionary for several applications. If that is not all, unlike most discoveries wherein the concept needs to be developed for years before commercial use, 3D-printed bionic skin is ready to go into the market now!

A Boon for Minimally Invasive Surgeries

According to the lead researcher, 3D-printed bionic skin can be installed on surgical robots, which will give them the ability to work more efficiently during minimally invasive surgeries, similar to what cameras do. Bionic skin will also aid the robots to interact with their environment and work in sync with other robots.

Silicone, the Backbone of Bionic Skin

This special sensing fabric has four nozzles to print specific inks that constitute the layers of the device. While top and bottom electrodes have been built with a conducting ink, a sacrificial layer that manages the leading layer in place, and is coil-shaped pressure sensor, the base layer is of silicone. During the final manufacturing process, the supporting sacrificial layer gets removed, leaving being what is being termed as 3D-printed bionic skin.

3D-printing on Human Skin the Next Target

Anticipated as the ultimate wearable, bionic skin may be a boon for medical practitioners, allowing remote and real-time health monitoring. The potential of this nanomaterial in the defense sector is also enormous, detecting dangerous chemicals or explosives around soldiers in the war-field. Although the engineering researchers at the University of Minnesota are yet to print on human skin as of now, they have managed to print on curved surface signifying a model hand, and were amazed at bionic skin’s ability to detect pulse in real time.

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