Abstract

3D printed flexible sensors have demonstrated great potential for utilization in a variety of different applications including healthcare, environmental sensing, and industrial applications. In recent years, research on this topic has increased to meet low-cost sensing needs due to the development of innovative materials and printing techniques that reduce cost, production time, and enhance the electrical and mechanical properties of the sensors. This paper presents computational simulations of 3D printed flexible sensors, capable of producing an output signal based on the deformation caused by external forces. Two different sensors were designed and tested, working based on a capacitance and resistance change produced by structural deformation. The capacitance sensor was designed maximizing the area of the electrodes and distributing the electrodes over a flexible membrane taking advantage of the produced deformation to reduce the distance between the electrodes. The reduction in the distance between the electrodes increases the capacitance value of the structure. The capacitance sensor was able to almost triple its baseline capacitance when 30 kPa of pressure was applied. The resistance sensor was designed with one continuous flexible conductive element attached to a flexible membrane, taking advantage of the distortion induced in the conductive element. The deformation in the conductive element increases the length of the resistor and causes the resistance value of the structure to increase. The resistance sensor was able to increase its resistance by 1200 ω with 30 kPa of applied pressure. Finally, preliminary results of 3D printed sensors were demonstrated.

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