Researchers say specialist printing and manufacturing could carve out a place in ‘electronic wearables’ for athletics and health

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have developed an inexpensive way to turn an ordinary shirt into an electronic smart shirt, capable of monitoring and adjusting body temperature or even allowing the wearer to apply heat to a sore shoulder or back.

All from a pattern printed on the fabric of the shirt or any other garment.

The key to their innovation: a highly conductive ink and a simple screen printing process. The new method results in a waterproof, breathable and highly flexible design that can function as a heating element when powered by a coin-sized battery.

The wearable technology market, such as the FitBit, Apple Watch and Bluetooth headphones, is booming, according to market analysts. But a growing segment includes electronic technology embedded in clothing, implanted into the user’s body, or even tattooed onto the skin.

The team of researchers led by Case Western Reserve believe their method stands out in the growing wearable technology market for its simplicity, durability, comfort and, possibly, price.

They say their process, successful in lab tests, could one day be applied to mass production. The research team, which included collaborators in Wuhan, China, published their findings in the magazine Small.

Changyong Cao

“We believe this is a much better method than other attempts to create truly wearable technology because not only does it have good performance initially, but it’s sustainable in the long run,” Changyong (Chase) Cao said. , assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and at the university. Case School of Engineering, which conducted the research.

Cao is also director of Soft Machines and Electronics Laboratory at Case Western Reserve. He said most designs available for incorporating electronics into clothing have a polymer or elastomeric surface. These types of surfaces are often uncomfortable and non-breathable.

Read more: Researchers say specialist printing and manufacturing could carve out a place in ‘electronic wearables’ for athletics and health

For more information, contact Mike Scott at [email protected]
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