Printed sensors analyze runners' foot steps

May 03, 2016 // By Julien Happich
At this year's Advanced Functional and Industrial Printing (AFIP) conference, Quad Industries' R&D Director Wim Christiaens exposed the company's manufacturing know-how in flexible printed electronics.

Promising printed electronics on anything, with volume-ready production capacity for fine-pitch screen printing of functional circuitry, Christiaens unveiled the company's roadmap, combining substrates such as PET, paper, textiles, metal or glass together with special-purpose stretchable inks for the design of sensors, actuators, batteries, displays, or even NFC circuits.

Source: Quad Industries

NFC temperature logger

Typically, the company partners with customers to help them develop a working prototype for their project, to follow up with volume production. Quad Industries is a recent licensee for manufacturing Enfucell' SoftBattery, giving the company more flexibility to integrate custom designed batteries in its customers' projects. An example put forward in Christiaens' presentation included a temperature logger consisting of a temperature sensor chip from NXP mounted onto a thin PET foil printed with a complementary battery, NFC antenna and all necessary interconnections.

Pressure sensing insole developed in
collaboration with medilogic

Another interesting example was the insole developed in collaboration with the German company medilogic, offering wireless dynamic recording of the pressure load under the foot inside the shoe, either for rehabilitation or training. For this insole, the company used silver and carbon inks to print capacitive sensors across several plies of textile, totalling 14 sensing areas that connect to a wearable reading device.

The R&D Director would not share the pressure range, only hinting that because each application is custom-designed, the measurement ranges and sensor cells would be tailored for any given application, with the flat-cable layout design maybe the only limiting factor.

However, insole pressure measurement may become a growing business if customer and partner ATO-gear succeeds in its mission to revolutionize the world of fitness wearables for runners.