Munich, Germany – Germany's Fraunhofer institute has developed breathing sensors using polyurethane, which when built into baby clothes could help prevent sudden cot deaths.
The sensors use a stretchable printed circuit board that fits to the contours of the body and can be made using routine industrial processes. Franhofer says, "Fitted to a romper suit, the stretchable printed circuit board monitors infants' breathing."
The stretchable PCB, which fits to the contours of the body, was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin.
To demonstrate this application of the stretchable PCB, scientists fitted it with two commercially available sensors and ironed the whole system onto a romper suit. This allows them to monitor breathing in the chest and stomach areas.
The circuit board is made of polyurethane. "The circuit board we have developed can be manufactured using routine industrial processes, meaning a high throughput and, consequently, good cost-efficiency," said Manuel Seckel, scientist at the IZM, in a Fraunhofer press release.
The researchers had to overcome a number of challenges to achieve the high level of accuracy required. One of these was how to handle and process the polyurethane. "As with stretch fabric, PU PCBs are hard to machine manufacture because they tend to change shape. To counter this, we developed a support system on which we place the PU boards and machine process them before removing the support once more," said Seckel.
The method is currently being tested by various industrial concerns.