Scientists from Saarland University in Germany have developed a new method to create stretchable circuits using a laser cutter, which simplifies the production of functional prototypes. The secret lies in precision cuts and easy to use software designed by the team, claiming anyone can use to produce their own custom stretchable electronics. Imagine having a jacket that silences incoming calls when the sleeve is tapped, or a bandage that sounds an alarm if a limb is being stretched too far after being wounded. Those are just a few examples of applications stretchable circuits that can be produced in a relatively short time.
The new LASEC method uses a laser cutter to remove material in specified patterns making it stretchable, while circuits are added using routing strategies and a real-time routing algorithm. (📷: Saarland University)
Most flexible circuits manufacturing methods are complicated and very time-consuming, but the researcher’s LASEC method has the capability of producing stretchable circuits in a matter of minutes using off-the-shelf material in a matter of minutes.
“The heart of the process is a so-called laser cutter. Its laser beam transmits material continuously and pulsed. In this way, it makes a lot of accurate cuts in no time.”
The process involves using the laser cutter several times over to create specific patterns in a double-layered material as it burns said material away. The process produces a Y-like pattern, which is done several times over to create a stretching effect on the material is used.
The scientists state that the size of the pattern, along with the thickness and distance between the cuts determine its extensibility. The material consists of a conductive and nonconductive layer, and as the laser burns the material away at predefined points, it creates a circuit in the process. The team created three prototypes using the LASEC method, including a transparent bracelet with LED, a flexible controller for PC games, and a bandage that measures the degree of infraction, all of which were produced within five minutes.