What are Printed Batteries?

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Editorial Team - everything PE

May 7, 2023

Printed batteries are a new class of batteries that are manufactured using advanced printing techniques. These batteries are composed of a series of thin layers of active materials, including electrodes, electrolytes, and current collectors, that are deposited onto a flexible substrate using printing processes such as inkjet printing, screen printing, or roll-to-roll printing. They are also incredibly lightweight and flexible, making them ideal for use in wearable devices and other portable electronics. As technology continues to evolve, printed batteries may become the primary source of power for many low to medium-power devices in the future.

Working Principle

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Structure of Printed Batteries

Printed batteries are a type of thin-film battery that is produced by depositing layers of materials onto a substrate using printing techniques. The substrate can be composed of a variety of materials, including plastic, paper, or fabric. The battery's layers consist of three key components: the anode, the cathode, and the electrolyte. 

The anode, which is the positively charged electrode, is typically composed of a thin layer of zinc or lithium. The cathode, the negatively charged electrode, is usually made of a thin layer of copper or aluminum. The electrolyte, which is the substance that allows ions to move between the anode and cathode, is typically made of a polymer gel or solid-state material.

During operation, the printed battery releases electrons from the anode, which flow through an external circuit to power the device. Simultaneously, positively charged ions travel through the electrolyte and combine with electrons at the cathode. This process generates an electric current, which powers the device.

Printing Techniques

Printing techniques for producing printed batteries typically involve depositing layers of conductive and non-conductive materials onto a substrate using a printing process. The exact process may vary depending on the type of printing technology used, but common techniques include screen printing, inkjet printing, and flexographic printing.

3D-printed architecture of Li-ion batteries and its applications to smart  wearable electronic devices - ScienceDirect

Printed Batteries Fabrication Process

Screen printing is a widely used technique that involves applying a layer of ink or paste onto a mesh screen, which is then transferred onto the substrate by applying pressure. Inkjet printing uses a small nozzle to spray tiny droplets of ink onto the substrate, allowing for greater precision and control over the deposition of materials. Flexographic printing involves using a flexible relief plate to transfer ink or paste onto the substrate. Regardless of the specific printing technique used, the goal is to deposit layers of conductive and non-conductive materials onto the substrate to create a functional battery. The exact materials used may vary but often include conductive polymers, carbon nanotubes, and other organic materials that are compatible with the printing process.


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Screen Printing Process

Once the layers have been deposited, the printed battery is typically cured or dried to ensure that the materials adhere to the substrate and form a solid, functional battery. While the exact details of the printing process may vary depending on the specific application and materials used, the overall process is designed to be cost-effective, scalable, and flexible, allowing for the creation of customized batteries in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations.

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