People were blown away with 3D printing and the possibly it unleashed for prototyping. Now, we can print metals onto flexible circuits to create printed batteries! Printing batteries is similar in concept to 3D printing, but possibly more powerful in application. Flexible, skinny batteries are the innovation necessary to implement wearables into the Internet of Things.
Enfucell OY spoke at our 14th WT | Wearable Technologies Conference in Munich, Germany this past February. They introduced SoftBattery; a disposable, thin and flexible printed power source. It can be used for pharmaceutical and cosmetic wearable bio-patches, wireless medical and logistic sensors, or functional smart packaging. The SoftBattery comes in three different sizes with three different voltages. The process is environmentally friendly. Now you can supercharge your future!
Varta MicroBattery provides the WT ecosystem with the battery for renewable energy. They were a speaking exhibitor at our 16th WT | Wearable Technologies conference in San Francisco; they also sponsor our Innovation World Cup. Besides manufacturing batteries, Varta engineers products for the IoT; batteries, cells, power packs, H2 cells, and hearing aids. Their super skinny, light weight lithium prismatic battery is ideal for wearable products.
— VARTA (@VARTAbatteryUSA) 25. Juni 2015
EnFilm, thin film batteries produced by ST life augmented, a re-chargeable solid-state battery. This battery differs from others because it has a life time of 10 years. It features a LiCoO2 cathode and a LiPON ceramic electrolyte and lithium anode. EnFilm is certified, and safe to use within the Energy of Things. ST life augmented is also WT | Innovation World Cup partner. We are now accepting submissions to the 2015/16 competition; click here for more info.
Imprint Energy is a start-up company founded in 2010. They have developed ZincPoly™, a rechargeable battery from Berkeley, California. ZincPoly™ enables production of ultrathin, flexible, high energy density rechargeable batteries for a low price. The development of this battery allows for wearable designers to enhance the possibilities and decreased hazardous battery material. Imprint Energy sells ZincPoly™ as a customized product.
Jenax developed a bendable, twistable, foldable, and wearable battery! The application possibilities are limitless with J.Flex. You can acquire the battery in any size. The material can withstand extreme environmental conditions. The flexible battery is safe; therefore it can be used within wearable technology. You can contact them for customization. Below is a video demonstrating how the versatile and durable the flexible battery is.
Graphene 3D Labs released a 3D printed battery in October 2014. This printed battery can reach the same voltage as AA batteries. Since it is 3D printed, you can print the battery in a single print with any shape you need. However, because it is 3D printed it is not as flexible as other innovative batteries. Yet, it is fast production of prototyping devices.
Arizona State University, USA has experimented with ingenious ways to create stretchable ion batteries. They are inspired by the art of kirigami, paper folding. With this skill one can fold, bend and stretch a battery with no negative effects. This prototype is ready for mass production. The students that worked on this project are Hongyu Yu, Zeming Song, and Xu Wang.
Similarly, the same research has been conducted at Binghamton University in New York. They have proven that one can print the appropriate organic material onto paper and then fold the paper, like origami, to create a durable battery. Since this material is organic it is biodegradable. Paper is also absorbent, so you do not need any other materials to hold the chemicals in place. An air-breathing cathode is sprayed on nickel to one side of the paper, and the anode is screen printed carbon paint. Making the cheapest battery; at a cost of nearly 5 cents.
There is no hiding that batteries are necessary for storing energy for wearable devices. How this energy is derived is one problem. The other is how to package the energy into an efficient, practical power source. Inventing skinny and flexible batteries for wearable products will endorse consumers to trust themselves to not break the product. The majorities of people are not accustomed to gentle movement when wearing technology in their clothing; just think about how many phones are dropped into toilets. Providing them with ubiquitous, smart technology will simplify their daily routine. It all starts with the battery.