An all-inkjet printed strain gauge and thermocouple embedded in injection-molded plastics
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Inkjet-printing enables the fabrication of low-cost sensor systems without the need of a photo mask and can be used for rapid prototyping. By using a commercially available Epson inkjet printer and silver nanoparticle dispersion, electrically conductive traces can be easily printed on photo paper or other substrates of interest. In order to protect the printed circuits from environmental influences, the sensor circuits can be embedded into plastic. In this paper a fully inkjet-printed sensor system consisting of a thermocouple and a strain gauge was developed as a functional model and finally protected from environmental conditions by an injection-molding process. In this context the Seebeck-coefficient of various inkjet-printable materials as well as the gauge factor of the used substrate were characterized.