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Embedded Pressure Sensing Metamaterials using TPU-Graphene Composites and Additive Manufacturing

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posted on 2023-03-06, 19:13 authored by Inigo Sanz PenaInigo Sanz Pena, Matthew Hopkins, Noelia Rubio Carrero, Hang Xu

Nearly 15% of the global population is affected by disabilities impacting mobility. Monitoring foot pressure distribution during gait is a fundamental aspect of evaluating rehabilitation. Wearable systems provide a portable alternative to stationary equipment monitoring gait without laboratory space limitations. However, wearable sensors in some applications present challenges in the calibration, sensitivity, and human-sensor interface, requiring application-specific sensors. This study aimed to develop wearable sensors where the structural and material properties can characterise the sensitivity and range of measurement during the design phase. We developed wearable piezoresistive sensors using additive manufacturing to create mechanical metamaterials with embedded pressure-sensing capabilities. The sensors were fabricated in TPU using SLS and graphene ink infusion processes. Three structural designs were developed for different measuring ranges (0 – 50 N, 0 – 100 N, and 0 – 150 N) using body-centred cubic lattices constructed via pyramid unit cells. Two graphene infusion processes were evaluated. We tested the sensors' mechanical and piezoresistive behaviour, measuring the compressive force, strain, and electrical resistance across the sensor. We analysed the influence of structural dimensions and the infusion process on the piezoresistive behaviour. The measuring range was affected mainly by tuneable structural dimensions. The infusion process influenced the piezoresistive sensitivity and affected the linearity response. The results indicate the characterisation of the sensitivity of piezoresistive sensors based on structural parameters and material properties. Mechanical metamaterials could embed pressure sensing in wearables, allowing for customisation based on design parameters using additive manufacture and graphene inks. 


This work was supported by the Dame Julia Higgins Collaborative Research Fund, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London.


Email Address of Submitting Author

ORCID of Submitting Author

additive manufacturing; embedded sensing; graphene composites; lattice structures; mechanical metamaterials; pressure sensors; piezoresistive sensors; SLS; TPU; wearable sensors.

Submitting Author's Institution

Imperial College London, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Submitting Author's Country

  • United Kingdom