The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is collaborating on a project to support the development of next-generation ‘smart clothing’.
Working with Pireta Limited, CPI – which has sites at Wilton on Teesside and the NETPark at Sedgefield – is using its industry expertise in the printed electronics sector to aid scale-up of wearable technology in textiles.
The technology coats individual fibres with metal on fabrics in selective patterns without changing its physical and mechanical properties.
This enables wearable electronics to be more discreet, as the electrodes are integrated into the fabric.
CPI, with its expertise in hybrid and stretchable electronics, is supporting Pireta’s work on developing a unique process to make durable, flexible, interconnecting electrodes that avoid changing fabric feel and performance.
Pireta’s patent pending technology has the potential to enable truly wearable smart electronic systems through the attachment of copper within textile yarns.
Employing proven aqueous processes and commercially available chemistries, Pireta has a track record of consistently producing highly conductive, robust and complex circuit demonstrators on a variety of textiles.
This gives the textiles a low sheet resistance, a conductor that does not crack, and flexibility, breathability and performance that is maintained when washed or stretched.
Using CPI’s state-of-the-art equipment, the project, known as TexAnn, aims to significantly reduce existing manufacturing timescales while optimising electrode pattern resolution; demonstrating the commercial viability of Pireta’s technology.
Wearable technology is an intrinsic part of the Internet of Things, allowing devices to send and receive data via an internet connection. Its long-term development is supported by the UK Government through Innovate UK-funded projects.
CPI project manager Sean Bolton said: “We are delighted to be involved in assisting Pireta to develop its technology, which will potentially unlock many of the current restrictions in the development of smart textiles and wearables.
“Our technical team will provide and coalesce our extensive knowledge across multiple technologies to accelerate the route to commercialisation for Pireta.
“Enabling this technology will add significant impact to smart textiles and wearable electronics, especially when there is an increased demand in this area from multiple industries.”
Chris Hunt, Pireta founder and chief technology officer, added: “We value the help CPI is bringing to the TexAnn project, and the step up in our ability to scale-up manufacturing.
“We need to bring our game-changing technology to market, and this collaboration with CPI is key to that delivery.”