Highly Conductive Yarns and Threads, the new Wires in Smart Clothing!Randy Mitchell (VTech)
Highly Conductive Yarns and Threads, the new “wires” in smart clothing! Think about it, when smart clothing first came out, there were actual wires used to make connections! The problem with these wires is that they were not particularly flexible, comfortable, compact, or durable. The traditional wire circuitry did not stand up to the constant flexing of the human body or the extremes of the cleansing process, moisture and temperature. Often, the product did not stand the “test of time and the demands of comfort”.
Conductive yarns and threads have added flexibility to the mix, making them logical in clothing applications. Clothes are already textile based, so why not make the Highly Conductive threads and yarns that make up the clothing article the basis of the electronic circuitry? With the advent of conductive silver plated threads, new solutions appeared! Silver is the most conductive metal and these threads allowed highly conductive circuits to be incorporated into the clothing by stitching or embroidery, at the same time allowing the garments to be comfortable and unobtrusive to the users. Shieldex® Madeira® HC 40 and Shieldex® Madeira® HC 12 are have a special coating and a double twist that make them VERY useful in embroidery machines and regular sewing machines!
Conductive yarns and threads have made smart clothing possible in the medical field! Sensors, which had to be applied to the skin with adhesives, are now able to be embroidered into garments that keep them in proper placement comfortably, without the skin issues and irritation caused by the adhesives! EKG, heart rate, temperature, moisture, and vital signs can be monitored easily using these garments.
Embroidered Sensors and Electrodes Allowing Wireless or Hardwire Connections (Photos Courtesy of ZSK)
Take this same technology to Eldercare and Child Care, where GPS systems can be put into the garments the person is wearing! Alzheimer’s sufferers and little children are prone to wander off, but they rarely wander off unclothed! They can be located and their condition can be monitored depending on the type of sensors incorporated in the garment they are wearing.
The Military sector makes great use of conductive yarns and threads by having antennas and sensors embroidered into clothing which can monitor the position, vital signs, and physical condition of the serviceperson wearing them! The antenna also allows easy communication with the touch of a hand!
Industrial Health and Safety can be improved by having employees in potentially dangerous environments wearing clothing that monitors their vital signs and has sensors that can even determine if there is any exposure to dangerous chemicals or materials.
The Health and Fitness market can make use of these garments with sensors that show body position through movement, helping to the athlete to sharpen technique and position, while monitoring the vital signs of the athlete during training or activity.
I’ve touched on several areas where conductive threads and yarns can be used to enhance smart clothing. The possibilities are endless. VTT has a great selection of conductive textiles, including these Shieldex® Madeira® Highly Conductive yarns and threads. If you are developing a product or interested in conductive yarns, threads, and fabrics, please contact us, call us, or shop our online store for assistance in selecting the ones that are right for you!
V Technical Textiles, Inc.
Shieldex® Madeira® HC 12 Shieldex® Madeira® Shieldex® Madeira® HC 40
Thanks to ZSK for Cooperation with Embroidery Photography!