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Sustainable, digital production of wearable soft-stretchable electronic devices | Mycronic

The production and consumption of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in the European Union (EU) are on the rise (Eurostat 2020). Due to low levels of reuse, collection, recycling, and other forms of recovery of waste EEE, the consumption of rare and expensive natural resources is also increasing. This imposes higher economic and environmental pressure on manufacturers of modern electronic devices. As new fields of applications for stretchable electronics continue to emerge, such as wearable smart textiles and medical/health-monitoring devices, the market for stretchable electronics is expected to grow rapidly. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, research indicates that the global stretchable electronics market will reach $2.6 billion by 2027 (Researchandmarkets 2020).

The development of methods to assess the ecological impact of not only the electronic device, but also the production process, is an area of research that is growing. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a useful method to identify and quantify the environmental impacts of a product, process, or activity. Comparative LCA can be carried to compare the environmental impacts of two or more products that have similar functionality (Kokare, 2022).

The production process for stretchable electronics that is being developed is based on a digital production strategy, where the production steps are digitally controlled and optimised. An example of a proposed production line, including deposition machines, inspection devices et cetera, will be presented. A comparative life cycle assessment of stretchable and rigid electronics-based cardiac monitoring devices will be discussed to elucidate aspects of the production process from an environmental point of view.



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