The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed a new technique for directly printing circuits onto fabrics to create robust, functional wearable electronics.
Importantly the new system can be applied directly to finished garments with nanosilver bonding to the cloth and encapsulating fibres as thin as 20nm in diameter. This approach offers several benefits compared to existing weave-in methods for creating smart garments.
NPL's project leader Chris Hunt says: 'The technique has many potential applications. One particularly exciting area is wearable sensors and antennas. It offers particular benefits over the "weaving in" approach, as the conductive pattern and flexibility ensure that sensors are always positioned in the same location on the body.'
The printed circuits produced using NPL's new technology demonstrate good physical qualities, adhesion and flexibility, working even when the cloth has been refolded and rearranged many times, combined with good electrical conductivity.