3D printing is already transforming the healthcare industry, from additive manufacturing of medical devices to producing functional pre-clinical parts. The technology is enabling rapid medical advancements and paving the way for new applications. As additive manufacturing of functional printed electronics takes root with Nano Dimension’s DragonFly® System, medical device manufacturers can now 3D print embedded sensors, multi-layer PCBs and miniaturized modules with conductive components and complex geometries, for a variety of applications in the medical device industry such as microfluidics and non-invasive sensors. With the DragonFly® System’s groundbreaking ability to simultaneously 3D print both dielectric polymer and conductive metal traces at high precision levels, designers can fully utilize their creativity to design surgical and training tools with irregular geometries. Groundbreaking new designs for medical tools can be pioneered, with the virtually limitless design freedom afforded by the DragonFly® System. Contact us to discover how 3D printed electronics can be leveraged to overcome challenges in medical device innovation.
Innovative prototyping method enables lighter, smaller, more affordable MEMS
Piezoskin is a startup based in Lecce and established as a spin-off from the Center of Biomolecular Nanotechnologies (CBN) of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). Over the last five years, the CBN has developed technologies for harvesting energy and sensing from mechanical sources (such as vibrations and fluid flows) and human body movements. To this aim, Piezoskin has developed a consolidated fabrication protocol for soft piezoelectric transducers, from a customizable design to device production, characterization and testing.
The devices created by Piezoskin are based on a polymeric substrate and a highly flexible thin-film structure, comprised of Aluminum Nitride as a piezoelectric layer and Molybdenum as an electrode. The extremely low thickness of the whole structure makes the product the thinnest piezoelectric transducer on the market today, ideal for the wearable transducers and next-generation micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) used in multiple applications - especially biomedical.
In manufacturing ohmic-contact MEMS, the metal contact is one of the most crucial parts, as it determines the device’s performance and reliability. This issue is especially important in the manufacture of devices that are soft and flexible, as producing electrical connections becomes difficult due to the technical constraints involved. Piezoskin therefore turned to Nano Dimension, requesting a solution that would optimize the process.
To solve the limitations inherent in approaches used until now, and help boost Piezoskin to the next level, Nano Dimension suggested its DragonFly LDM® additive manufacturing system for the embedding of piezoelectric transducers into light, compact and robust package. Inside, the electrical pads would be directly printed on the device’s metal layers, where an RF connector would be welded.
The DragonFly’s multi-material inkjet deposition system, with two different kinds of ink — conductive silver nanoparticle ink (metal) and insulating ink (dielectric) — was used to embed the sensors via a layer-by-layer fabrication process.
Using the Nano Dimension solution, Piezoskin was able to avoid injection molding processes which was a significant advantage over traditional production methods, as it eliminated a great deal of both human-machine interface and hardware normally used. It also enabled the ultimate manufacturing of a package that was more cost effective, not to mention much smaller and far lighter than otherwise would have been possible.
“Nano Dimension’s AME technology helped us to achieve an original product prototype, in which wires and connectors were eliminated and the package was minimized, to obtain an optimal user experience. It simplified the manufacturing process, as compared to traditional manufacturing methods.”
Dr. Francesco Guido, CTO Piezoskin S.R.L.