3D printing and conductive thread allowed to create clothes with buttons

Engineers from the Netherlands and Canada have developed a method of creating a two-layer garment with buttons integrated into the fabric. They offered to sew an electrical circuit conductive threads and using a 3D printer to print on fabric plastic buttons with thin metal plates, clamp circuit. The article is about the method was presented at the conference DIS 2020.

There are quite a lot of attempts to create intelligent clothes: mostly research projects, although there are already commercial examples, such as jacket Google and Levi’s. As a rule, they have the same one, still unresolved, problem: difficult to make clothes with electronic components such as flexible, tensile and as a result, comfortable to wear as a regular jacket or sweatshirt. In particular, there is a problem with the buttons, so you have to use either a flat touch surface, not giving the usual tactile response, or the usual hard buttons, uncomfortable when worn on the body.

Engineers under the leadership of Rong-Hao Liang (Rong-Hao Liang) from the Technical University of Eindhoven has created a simple method that allows you to embed buttons in clothes, and based on standard methods of garment production. Caused by this method of clothing consists of two layers of fabric. On the bottom layer from the inner side it is necessary to embroider a simple electronic circuit consisting of overlapping but not touching the conductive thread embroidered up and down.

On the top layer outside engineers printed using a 3D printer or embroidered by using the sewing machine buttons in the form of a hexagon with a circle
in the middle. As in the case with the lower layer, before the fabric is stretched. Due to this, after the button is printed and the fabric is stopped to stretch the area of fabric with button raised above the rest
part and took the shape.

The inner part of the layer with the buttons, the authors glued a thin copper plate. When the user clicks the button, the plate is in contact with two intersecting conductive paths of adjacent layers, and there is a circuit that detects connected Arduino Board.

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