One of the applications of 3D printing is the medical field. Researchers from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have developed a 3D printed electrochemical ring (e-ring) which is used to monitor glucose levels from a smartphone. Users can monitor their blood sugar levels by just connecting the ring to their smartphone. This is a patient-friendly method and does not require any blood samples in order to know the glucose levels.
There is another method for monitoring the glucose levels using glucose meter, but this is a painful process which can increase risk of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia referring to high and low blood sugar levels. The 3D printed e-ring detects the glucose levels based on the sweat. Still the researchers are focusing on user friendliness to develop an accessible solution. This 3D printed e-ring can be connected easily to smartphones.
Four prototypes are produced using Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) and carbon-based polylactide (PLA). Each of them consists of three carbon-based plastic electrodes fabricated using a conductive filament. The electrodes are integrated at the inner side of the plastic ring, fabricated using non-conductive filament. The 3D printed e-ring is an amperometric device which detects ions in a solution and it is modified using an electrodeposited gold film so that it could be fitted to a miniature potentiostat. Potentiostat is an electrical hardware used to control three-electrode cells. With the help of this users are able to monitor their glucose levels.
This is one of the many ways in which 3D printing technology has been adapted to facilitate innovations in the medical sector.