Engineer Enables Printing of Circuits with Ordinary Printers

Normally, you would think that a common office printer has no other purpose than printing documents. What sounded utopian at first has now become reality: For the first time, Dr. Mohammad Haider, Electrical and Computer Engineer of UAB Research Labs in Birmingham, makes office printers print circuits from anywhere, even from home.

Normally, you would think that a common office printer has no other purpose than printing documents. What sounded utopian at first has now become reality: For the first time, Dr. Mohammad Haider, Electrical and Computer Engineer of UAB Research Labs in Birmingham, makes office printers print circuits from anywhere, even from home.

A Promising Way to Make Life Easier

Haider’s vision was, among other things, to use the small circuits in the medical field: He illustrated this in his paper by using sensors for breath measurement to detect the temperature differences between inhaled and exhaled air. This is, according to him, a pleasant form of treatment for patients who suffer from chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or sleep apnea and receive medical treatment on an outpatient basis: “It’s hospital-level monitoring at home”. Compared to ordinary measuring instruments for home use, those circuits are inexpensive, robust, light and easy to produce.

Depending on which ink is used, different values can be determined. The self-powered inkjet circuits can even distinguish between hot and cold depending on situation. Thus, it would be possible to warn you if your coffee to go is still too hot to drink. In addition, for figure-conscious people there would also be the possibilty to check their energy balance by measuring oxygen or carbon dioxide.

Constantly Working on Improvements

As small as a circuit may be, it is a science in itself: In order to complete his chip design, Haider is oriented towards human neurons instead of giving each sensor its own chip brain. “The human brain is never working with a single neuron at a time”, he explains. “Each individual neuron is fairly poor-performing – moderate to low reliability. But with their massive numbers, they can outperform our reliability. But with their massive numbers, they can outperform our supercomputers. We are trying to find new architectures for computer circuits. So how about looking to nature for ideas?”

Haider also received a three-year scholarship worth nearly US$ 450.000 valuable for his research with the aim of reducing data like his neuron-inspired network-level computations and the aim of testing an encoding scheme that uses a set of unique pulses to pack more data into a transmission. The more data can be transferred, the faster city-wide data can be captured via drones.

Necessity Is The Mother of Invention

The idea of using an office printer came to Haider of necessity because it’s cheaper to build and test than conventional circuits. He had spent four and a half months working on his idea and having to face many failures, but eventually he achieved success. “It was frustrating, but always interesting. I was getting something – that kept me going.”

If you want to get an idea of what a self-printed circuit looks like and how it works, watch the following video:

We are happy for Dr. Mohammad Haider that he has not given up despite his long work. Do you know other areas where you could profit from self-printed circuits? Let us know in the comment section!