3-D-printed water quality sensor tested

Researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus have designed a tiny device -- built using a 3D printer -- that can monitor drinking water quality in real time and help protect against waterborne illness.

Prof. Mina Hoorfar, Director of the School of Engineering, says new research proves their miniaturized water quality sensors are cheap to make, can operate continuously and can be deployed anywhere in the water distribution system.

"Current water safety practice involves only periodic hand testing, which limits sampling frequency and leads to a higher probably of disease outbreak," says Hoorfar. "Traditional water quality sensors have been too expensive and unreliable to use across an entire water system."

Until now, that is. Tiny devices created in her Advanced Thermo-Fluidic lab at UBC's Okanagan campus, are proving reliable and sturdy enough to provide accurate readings regardless of water pressure or temperature. The sensors are wireless, reporting back to the testing stations, and work independently -- meaning that if one stops working, it does not bring down the whole system. And since they're made using 3D printers, they are fast, inexpensive and easy to produce.

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