STRETCHTRONICS: Soft and Stretchable Mechatronics for Wearable Devices: Fabrication, Implementation and Applications

Organizations:  CENTIMFE
Main Research Area: Soft MEMS; Human Machine Interaction Wearable technology; Additive Manufacturing
CMU Portugal Program webpage:
Principal Investigators: Aníbal Traça de Almeida (UC; ISR-Coimbra); Carmel Majidi (CMU; ME)

Machines in engineering use mostly hard materials, while living systems in nature are often soft. This conspicuous contrast has been an inspiration for the novel field of soft machines.

Embedding electronics on low-cost and flexible substrates holds promise for wearable devices such as health monitoring suits, fitness trackers and entertaining industry, as well as other fields such as soft antennas, soft batteries, soft sensors, mobile robotics, grasping mechanisms, and more. Flexible and ultra-thin electronics can be attached to the skin and can follow the dynamic morphology of the skin, to detect electrical signals, such as heart rate and muscular activities. It can also be used as health monitoring devices, or Human Machine Interfaces (HMI).

This project intends to investigate the methods for fabrication of soft and stretchable MEMS and to develop wearable systems with a good market potential. This includes:

– A low cost accessible FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer for prototyping purposes

– An SL (StereoLithography) printer for fast, precise and compact soft electronics.

In parallel the consortium will continue the research on the applications of these elements. This includes a mesh of soft pressure sensors to develop a MEMS skin, to be used in prosthetic devices as well as robotic systems, a wristband as a general purpose HMI device and pieces of a wearable technology for tracking the motion profile and kinematics of a human.