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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stretchable Inks for Wearable Electronics

New and improved methods to intertwine electronics and apparel is on the rise.

According to a recent Printed Electronics World article, “A new world of flexible, bendable, even stretchable electronics is emerging from research labs to address a wide range of potentially game-changing uses. The common, rigid printed circuit board is slowly being replaced by a thin ribbon of resilient, high-performance electronics.

This research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society last week. "Basically, we are using a hybrid technology that mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3-D printing technologies," says Benjamin J. Leever, Ph.D., who is at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "In some cases, we incorporate 'inks,' which are based on metals, polymers and organic materials, to tie the system together electronically. With our technology, we can take a razor-thin silicon integrated circuit, a few hundred nanometers thick, and place it on a flexible, bendable or even foldable, plastic-like substrate material," he says. To allow electronics to be bendable or stretchable or even change their configuration after fabrication, the Wright-Patterson team has turned to liquid gallium alloys as an electrical interconnect material, Leever says.  Read more.

The above mentioned tech, may or may not be currently suitable for clothing.  However, there is most definitely significant progress in regard to utilizing stretchable inks on apparel and fashion accessories.

Back in December 2014. DuPont Microcircuit Materials (DuPont) introduced a suite of stretchable electronic ink materials for use in smart clothing applications and other wearable electronics.  The materials provide an elegant, manufacturing-ready alternative to many traditional methods of embedding electronics in clothing.  The DuPont materials have been used to create thin, form-fitting circuits that can be seamlessly bonded with many standard fabrics, allowing for comfort and freedom in wearable electronic design.  A working model of a biometric shirt that incorporates DuPont electronic inks was on display for the first time during Printed Electronics USA 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif.
DuPont stretchable electronic inks deliver stable performance despite repeated elongation.  A third party evaluation of fabrics that incorporate these DuPont materials to create thin electronic circuits have shown them to be washable, durable, and capable of withstanding up to 100 wash cycles.  These DuPont materials can be used in many common manufacturing processes to produce smart clothing, including fitness and outerwear, without significant investment.

DuPont plans to offer a full material suite of conductors, encapsulants, and sensors for use in wearable electronics applications, including:
DuPont had previously exhibited smart clothing prototypes that incorporate its stretchable electronic ink materials during Printed Electronics USA 2014, in November 2014 in Santa Clara, Calif.  DuPont also delivered a key technical presentation titled, “Printed Wearables: Functional Inks for the Wearable World,” as well as taught a master class session titled, “Conductive Inks, Film and Transparent Conductive Film.”

DuPont Microcircuit Materials (MCM) is a leading innovator and high-volume supplier of electronic inks and pastes that offers a broad range of printed electronic materials commercially available today. The growing portfolio of DuPont MCM electronic inks is used in many applications, including forming conductive traces, capacitor and resistor elements, and dielectric and encapsulating layers that are compatible with many substrate surfaces including polymer, glass and ceramic.

MCM has over 40 years of experience in the development, manufacture, sale and support of specialized thick film compositions for a variety of electronic applications in the consumer electronics, automotive, photovoltaic, biomedical, military and telecommunications markets.  For more information on DuPont Microcircuit Materials, visit http://mcm.dupont.com.


Learn more about wearable technology here on Apparel Search.

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