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Published on : Mar 29, 2019

Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular owing to the numerous benefits they offer. They have encountered a renaissance with the entry of smart clothing technology. Newly developed textiles with integrated digital components have extensively broadened the scope of wearable electronics. They have garnered the attention of prominent companies such as Google and Apple. 3D printers have played a significant role in the development of this new technology that integrates electronic fibers into textiles. Scientists in China used a 3D printer with coaxial nozzle to print fibers on textiles.

New Study suggests that E-textiles can Facilitate Energy Management

Yingying Zhang, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Tsinghua University said that these e-textiles can facilitate energy management. Researchers demonstrated that this new technology enables the textile to harvest biomechanical energy from human motion. Zhang further said that they used coaxial nozzle as it facilitates a better compositional diversity as compared to single-axial nozzles. Use of 3D printers enables incorporation of several features into the fabric in a single step.

Zhang and her team used two inks with different properties to make their first 3D printed e-textile. Carbon nanotube solution acted as a conductive core, and silkworm silk created an insulation for conductive fibers. Researchers used injection syringes filled with these two inks to draw custom designed patterns on the textile. Although the technique is labor-intensive, it is cheap and easy to scale as the nozzle is compatible with existing 3D printers.

Zhang said that their goal is to enhance the working and efficiency of e-textile. They aim to develop smart wearable systems with better actuating and sensing properties. Further, she talked about the use multiple coaxial nozzles to create multifunctional e-textiles. The use of multiple coaxial nozzles will surely help the wearable device industry grow leaps and bounds.