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'Printable' micro-machines could bring improved bionic limbs
by Staff Writers
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Aug 7, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A method of printing biocompatible micro-machines -- tiny sensors and motors -- could bring improved medical devices like bionic arms, Israeli researchers say.

Such tiny machines are already everywhere -- telling your smartphone screen to rotate and your camera to focus -- and have a variety of applications in consumer electronics, automobiles and medicine.

Microelectromechanical systems, better known as MEMS, are usually produced from silicon, but researchers at Tel Aviv University report they've developed a way to print biocompatible micro-machine components onto polymer membranes more suitable for implantation in the human body.

Such membranes could be used in applications such as diagnostic test devices and smart prosthetics, they said.

Switching to MEMS made with the polymer membranes could help make prosthetics more comfortable, efficient and safer for use on or inside the body, they said.

"The use of new, soft materials in micro devices stretches both the imagination and the limits of technology," Tel Aviv University doctoral candidate Leyya Engel said, "but introducing polymer MEMS to industry can only be realized with the development of printing technologies that allow for low-cost mass production."

The printing process could lead to functional sensors and actuators made almost entirely out of the polymer at the micro- and nano-scales, she said, eventually creating things like artificial muscles.


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Researchers create 'soft robotic' devices using water-based gels
Raleigh NC (SPX) Aug 07, 2013
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating devices out of a water-based hydrogel material that can be patterned, folded and used to manipulate objects. The technique holds promise for use in "soft robotics" and biomedical applications. "This work brings us one step closer to developing new soft robotics technologies that mimic biological sy ... read more

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