by Ryan Westergaard
Scientists can now print a fully functional electrical circuit onto fabric, just like printing a design on a shirt.
The process is very simple. Through research at the University of Cambridge, an ink was created out of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which conducts electricity very well. This ink is then printed with an ink jet printer directly onto the shirt or other fabric.
Unlike previous forms of “wearable circuits” which are modular and rigid, this type is fully flexible just like a regular shirt. The ink is environmentally friendly and can survive upwards of 20 machine washes.
The implications for this type of technology are endless and just starting to be explored. One of the likely implementations will be in the healthcare field. One day, your hospital gown might have sensors built-in all over to take measurements and data from your body in real-time, without needing the use of bigger, bulkier devices.