The National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) is located in Thiruvananthapuram, India and is home to several brilliant scientists working in a range of fields of study. Recently, a group of those scientists used 3D printing to develop a new kind of wearable antenna that can be embedded into fabric, like military uniforms, for example. Antennae and wireless devices have been integrated into military uniforms for a long time for communication and monitoring purposes, but they’re not always perfect. Many of them, for example, are made from thin copper films attached to substrates of glass-reinforced epoxy, which makes them rigid and difficult to incorporate into textiles.
Researchers at NIIST have developed a new kind of wearable antenna 3D printed from a conductive silver ink. It’s flexible and lightweight, and, because it’s silver and not copper, will not oxidize. The bottom electrode on the polyester fabric the antenna was embedded into was 3D printed, as was the E-shaped patch antenna itself. The antenna could be used for a variety of applications, including defense, telemedicine and environmental monitoring.