A lot of consumers have held off from purchasing a smartwatch, but if you could print your own, would you?
Well soon, you may be able to. Using an inkjet printer, electrical engineers from the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have printed functional networks of transistors, which are used to carry out computing tasks on electronics like smartwatches.
Don’t expect to create a watch as powerful as the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S3 just yet. Although the printed parts can form logical circuits, they aren’t as powerful as processors featured in most smartwatches today. Actually, the printed transistors can only do basic computations like adding two numbers together, so they're only suited to simple applications for now.
However, these ink-jetted transistors are a step forward in printing tech. The transistors are crafted from organic compounds instead of silicon. The transistors are flexible and stackable, making them a good fit wearable technology.
They may even impact the medical industry and be used to collect data from arteries to predict heart attacks or to track brain activity and potentially prevent seizures. The device, which is only a concept at this point, worked for eight months straight, which is impressive since organic electronics typically degrade much more rapidly.
Some members of the 3D printing community have also created an open-source, fully functional printable DIY smartwatch that can be put together in about an hour for around $100. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just uploading a file to your 3D printer software, hitting CTRL P and letting the machine do the rest. Some assembly and soldering knowledge is required. The watch is rather impressive though and has a rechargeable battery, vibrating motor, Bluetooth, an OLED display and buttons.
Capabilities of printers continue to evolve and grow, and it’ll be interesting to see if we will be able to print our own wearable devices that affect our day-to-day lives.