Abstract

In recent years, highly flexible nanocomposite sensors have been developed for the detection of a variety of human body movements. To precisely detect the bending motions of human joints, the sensors must be able to conform well with the human skin and produce signals that effectively describe the amount of deformation applied to the material during bending. In this paper, a carbon nanotube-based piezoresistive strain sensor is developed via the direct ink writing based embedded 3D printing method. The optimum weight concentration range of carbon nanotubes in the nanocomposite inks, appropriate for embedded 3D printing, is identified. Samples with complex 2D and 3D geometries are printed to demonstrate the manufacturing capabilities of the embedded printing process. The sensitivity of the piezoresistive strain sensor is optimized by determining the ideal nanofiller concentration, curing temperature, and nozzle size to produce the highest gauge factor in a wide strain range. The piezoresistive and mechanical properties of the optimized sensors are fully characterized to verify the suitability for skin-attachable strain sensing applications. The developed sensors have a wide sensing range, high sensitivity, and minimal strain rate dependence. In addition, their low elasticity and high biocompatibility allow them to be comfortably bonded on the human skin.

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