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Webinar on methods for integrating electronics to create E-textiles

Dr Hughes-Riley recently presented a webinar on different methods of electronics integration used to create E-textiles. The webinar was part of the E-textiles Network webinar series and a recording of the webinar is available online here.

The talk introduces different techniques to manufacture electronic textiles, discussing their different characteristics and potential advantages or disadvantages. Methods for testing and characterising E-textiles are also discussed.

Review of Solar Electronic Textiles

Members of the ATRG have recently published a review article on solar energy harvesting textiles. The article ‘A Review of Solar Energy Harvesting Electronic Textiles‘ focusses on the textile aspects of solar textiles, highlighting different textile properties and durability testing that has been conducted in the literature. The review has been written to be accessible and includes an introduction and overview to other forms of textile energy harvesting as well as the fundamentals of how solar cells work. The article was published in Sensors and is available here.

Temperature sensing cycling suit

The ATRG have recently published a new article where they have studied the use of E-yarns for taking human skin temperature measurements during sub-maximal cycling trials. The study was not directly related to this project but has provided important information which will inform the E-yarn design moving forwards. The article was published in the Textile Research Journal and can be found here.

Animation of the soldering process

In January it was reported that the ATRG had developed a new process for soldering  solder two terminal devices onto insulated copper wires in parallel. The process has been refined over the past few months and an animation detailing each step of the process has now been produced.

Recent dissemination

The ATRG have published a new journal article on the wash testing of electronic yarns. The article ‘Wash Testing of Electronic Yarn‘, available here, covers the wash testing of copper wires within a knit braided sheath, E-yarns with embedded LEDs, E-yarns that incorporate a flexible circuit board, temperature sensing E-yarns, and acoustic sensing E-yarns.

Results from the project were also recently presented at the 27th International Molecular Med Tri-Con in San Francisco earlier in the month. The poster, entitled ‘The Design and Development of Electronic Textiles for Health Monitoring Applications‘ included recent work on the automated soldering of semi-conductor devices onto thin copper wires.

Dr. Hughes-Riley with the poster at the 27th International Molecular Med Tri-Con

Soldering chips in parallel

To be able to exploit the full range of commercially available microchips when making E-yarns it is crucial that separate fine wires can be soldered onto multiple solder pad. Previously, the semi-automated soldering process could only solder a single fine wire to a given component. For two-terminal devices, such as LEDs or thermistors, this wire would be soldered to both solder pads and then cut creating to discrete connections.

The Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG) are now able to solder two terminal devices onto insulated copper wires in parallel. This is a critical step towards being able to solder multi-terminal (>2 terminal) chips. The new process is achieved by carefully controlling two parallel, insulated copper wires using stepper motors. A solder paste dispenser is moved over the fine wires using a robotic arm and a predetermined quantity of solder paste is applied to each wire. A pick-and-place machine is then used to place the chip onto the solder paste dots, and an infra-red heat source is used to solder the chip onto the wires using a reflow soldering process.

Not only is this a step towards soldering more complex devices in an automated fashion but the ability to solder components to wires in parallel can be useful when using two-terminal devices as it allows both copper wires to leave one end of the yarn. This simplifies the insertion of the E-yarn into a garment as the other end of the E-yarn does not need to loop back to the hardware module or battery.

Welcome to the official website for the ‘Production engineering research for the manufacture of novel electronically functional yarns for multifunctional smart textiles’ project

Welcome to the official website for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded ‘Production engineering research for the manufacture of novel electronically functional yarns for multifunctional smart textiles’ project (grant number EP/T001313/1). This project focusses on the development of the production engineering knowledge needed to create electronic yarns (E-yarns), which are a type of electronic textile, in large quantities.

Light emitting electronic yarns as part of a garment.

This project is being conducted by the Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG), which is part of the School of Art and Design, at Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom).

The purpose of this website is to share information and news about the project with other academics, industry, and the public. The site will be regularly updated when new technical developments are accomplished, and will report on dissemination activities.