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E-Textiles and Smart Clothing: An Update

(April/May 2018) posted on Mon Jul 30, 2018

Some of the initial buzz has waned, but large companies are investing heavily in the technology and giving us a glimpse of what may be ahead.

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By Eileen Fritsch

Directa Plus produces graphene-based products used in consumer and industrial markets. Two new textile collections by Colmar and Eurojersey contain the Directa Plus Graphene Plus (G+) technology. When used in fabrics, G+ technology can disperse excess body heat in warm climates and conserve body heat in cold temperatures. The fabric dries rapidly and prevents the spread of bacteria and unpleasant odors. Colmar offers G+ technology in 31 garments, including men’s and women’s ski jackets and snow pants. Eurojersey includes G+ in its Sensitive Fabrics brand of warp-knit technical fabrics for sportswear, “athleisure,” and underwear.   

Research Projects 
Engineers at Iowa State University of Science and Technology have published a paper about new graphene printing technology that can produce electronic circuits that are low-cost, flexible, highly conductive, and water-repellant. The paper, published in Nanoscale, notes that the nanotechnology “would lend enormous value to self-cleaning, wearable/washable electronics that are resistant to stains, or ice and biofilm formation.” 

“We’re taking low-cost, inkjet-printed graphene and tuning it with a laser to make functional materials,” explains Jonathan Claussen, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, an associate of the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, and the author of the paper in Nanoscale. Claussen describes how the nanoengineers in his research group use inkjet printing to create electric circuits on flexible materials from ink made with flakes of graphene.  

The printed flakes aren’t highly conductive. To make them useful for electronics or sensors, the nonconductive binders must be removed and the flakes must be welded together. Claussen and his research group have developed a rapid-pulse laser process that treats the printed graphene flakes without damaging the surface. The laser processing technology can also convert graphene-printed circuits that hold water droplets into circuits that repel water droplets, opening up all kinds of possibilities for new electronics and sensors. The Iowa State University Research Foundation is working to patent the technology.


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