Synergistic effects of hybrid conductive nanofillers on the performance of 3D printed highly elastic strain sensors

Dong Xiang, Xuezhong Zhang, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Wanqiu Zhu, Zuoxin Zhou, Yucai Shen, Yuntao Li, Chunxia Zhao, Ping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this work, thermoplastic polyurethane based conductive polymer
composites containing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and synthesized silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) were used to fabricate highly elastic strain sensors via fused deposition molding. The printability of the materials was improved with the introduction of the nanofillers, and the size and content of the AgNPs significantly influenced the sensing performance of the 3D printed sensors. When the CNTs:AgNPs weight ratio was 5:1, the sensors exhibited outstanding performance with high sensitivity (GF = 43260 at 250% strain), high linearity (R2 = 0.97 within 50% strain), fast response (~57 ms), and excellent repeatability (1000 cycles) due to synergistic effects. A modeling study based on the
Simmons' tunneling theory was also undertaken to analyze the sensing mechanism. The sensor was applied to monitor diverse joint movements and facial motion, showing its potential for application in intelligent robots, prosthetics, and wearable devices where customizability are usually demanded.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComposites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Dec 2019



  • synergy
  • strain sensor
  • 3D printing
  • nanocomposites

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