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3D Printing Mechanically Robust and Transparent Polyurethane Elastomers for Stretchable Electronic Sensors

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posted on 22.01.2020, 22:43 by Shuqiang Peng, Yuewei Li, Lixin Wu, Jie Zhong, Zixiang Weng, Longhui Zheng, Zhi Yang, Jia-Tao Miao
Advanced stretchable electronic sensors with a complex structure place higher requirements on the mechanical properties and manufacturing process of the stretchable substrate materials. Herein, three kinds of polyurethane acrylate oligomers were synthesized successfully and mixed with a commercial acrylate monomer (isobornyl acrylate) to prepare photocurable resins with a low viscosity for a digital light processing three-dimensional (3D) printer without custom equipment. Results showed that the resin containing poly­(tetrahydrofuran) units (PPTMGA-40) exhibited optimal mechanical properties and shape recoverability. The tensile strength and elongation at break of PPTMGA-40 were 15.7 MPa and 414.3%, respectively. The unprecedented fatigue resistance of PPTMGA-40 allowed it to withstand 100 compression cycles at 80% strain without fracture. The transmittance of PPTMGA-40 reached 89.4% at 550 nm, showing high transparency. An ionic hydrogel was coated on the surface of 3D-printed structures to fabricate stretchable sensors, and their conductivity, transparency, and mechanical performance were characterized. A robust piezoresistive strain sensor with a high strength (∼6 MPa) and a wearable finger guard sensor were fabricated, demonstrating that this hydrogel-elastomer system can meet the requirements of applications for advanced stretchable electronic sensors and expand the usage scope.

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