Extrusion printing with NOVA

In Inkjet and Extrusion Printed Silver Biomedical Tattoo Electrodes, El-hajj et al compared two common methods — inkjet printing and extrusion printing — to print the electrodes using silver ink.

According to the study, “Silver-based inks were selected as the printing medium due to their high conductivity, mechanical robustness, biocompatibility, and moderate cost compared to other inks (e.g. gold, graphene).”

Using Voltera NOVA, the group studied various shapes to test the performance and signal quality of the printed electrodes. El-hajj noted that, because the tattoo paper is quite thin, it can be used for many functional purposes, such as integration with prosthetic devices. 

“This is a starting point. Once the printing parameters for printing the specific ink on the specific substrate are optimized, you can go further. You can work on different sensors that can be integrated with the body, such as strain sensors, or even potentially explore areas of energy harvesting.” 

When it came to summarizing how NOVA helped her in this study, El-hajj observed that NOVA makes the printing process more efficient, and calibrating materials and aligning patterns is easier than ever. NOVA is more cost effective and reduces the time it takes to print patterns on a substrate compared to other printing methods, including inkjet.

Results: Inkjet vs. extrusion printing

The research findings indicated that inkjet printed electrodes are ideal for acquiring signals in areas of the body engaged in higher movement (e.g. EMG) due to their ability to better withstand bending strain. However, the extrusion printed electrodes exhibit a lower sheet resistance and impedance, and the ink does not absorb into the paper — a common issue encountered with inkjet printed tattoo electrodes.

Inkjet vs. extrusion sheet resistance

Inkjet vs. extrusion impedance

A graph showing impedance over contact area


Printed silver biomedical tattoo electrodes represent a promising advancement in biomedical monitoring technology. Their potential to offer greater comfort, flexibility, and efficiency, as well as their personalized, non-invasive nature compared to traditional electrode options is paving the way for innovative advancements in healthcare. In fact, El-hajj has gone on to continue her research in biomedical printed electronics, founding her own company called Epictrode Health. 

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