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Tattoo-like electronic health patches are now easy to make


However much you like the idea of a wearable electronic patch monitoring (or improving) your health, it's not all that practical. Making just one patch using current tech can take days, and you'd better believe that the result will be expensive. University of Texas researchers may have licked this problem, though. They've developed a "cut-and-paste" manufacturing method for tattoo-like patches that whittles the assembly time down to 20 minutes, and should reduce the cost in the process. The technique involves little more than cutting shapes out of metal placed on polymer sheets, and then printing the electronics on to polymer adhesives. Effectively, it's 3D printing in reverse -- you're taking material away until you get the design you want.

The invention sounds simple, but it could do a lot to make wearable tech a mainstay of the medical world. If patches are both simple to make and inexpensive, you're much more likely to get them as part of your treatment. You could even get disposable patches that track short-term conditions (say, a bad flu) to make sure that they're not signs of something much worse. It could take a long while before you see these cheap-and-easy devices in service, but they may well become commonplace.

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