Monolithic 3D Printing of Smart Objects

Tech ID: 25303 / UC Case 2016-012-0

Brief Description

The number of interconnected sensors and actuators are expected to grow beyond thousands of units per person by 2020, and new manufacturing processes will be required for personalization and seamless integration of such devices into our surrounding objects. One major general challenge for manufacturers is with scaling production of mechanically sophisticated and tailored objects while maintaining or improving efficiency. 3D printing may be an excellent candidate for manufacturing at scale as it enables on-demand and rapid manufacturing of user-defined objects. However, traditional 3D approaches have a unique set of challenges due to incompatible processing approaches with metals with plastics. To address these challenges, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed novel 3D printing techniques for fully-integrated smart objects that embed liquid metal-based passive/active components and silicon integrated circuits to achieve greater system-level functionalities. For demonstration, UC researchers created a form-fitting glove with embedded programmable heater, temperature sensor, and the associated control electronics for thermotherapeutic treatment, specifically tailored to an individual’s body. These novel processes can enable assembly of electronic components into complex 3D architectures, which may provide a new platform for creating personalized smart objects in volume.

Suggested uses

  • On-demand creation of personalized smart objects e.g. electronics


  • Incorporates readily available discrete and IC components to implement customized embedded systems
  • Tunably printed within both stretchable and rigid substrates
  • Broad applications (wires, antennas, and circuit components e.g. resistors, capacitors)
  • Offers many degrees of freedom in design of embedded systems as compared to traditional printed circuit board

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