A low-cost strain gauge displacement sensor fabricated via shadow mask printing

Ying Yi, Bo Wang, Amine Bermak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This work presents a cost-effective shadow mask printing approach to fabricate flexible sensors. The liquid-state sensing material can be directly brushed on a flexible substrate through a shadow mask. The ink leakage issue which often occurs in printed electronics is addressed with a custom taping scheme. A simple thermal compression bonding approach is also proposed to package the functional area of the sensor. To verify the feasibility and robustness of the proposed fabrication approach, a prototyped strain gauge displacement sensor is fabricated using carbon ink as the sensing material and a flexible polyimide (PI) film as the substrate. Once the substrate is deformed, cracks in the solidified ink layer can cause an increased resistance in the conductive path, thus achieving function of stable displacement/strain sensing. As a demonstration for displacement sensing application, this sensor is evaluated by studying its real-time resistance response under both static and dynamic mechanical loading. The fabricated sensor shows a comparable performance (with a gauge factor of ~17.6) to those fabricated using costly lithography or inkjet printing schemes, while with a significantly lower production cost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4173
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019



  • Carbon ink
  • Flexible strain gauge displacement sensor
  • Ink leakage
  • Shadow mask

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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