One major issue for the development of eTextiles is the lack of components directly suitable for textile-method based manufacturing. The existing components are designed to function in rigid or flexible circuit boards or thin-film systems, which are not necessarily suitable for drapable textile integration by means of weaving or knitting. Therefore, a casing for attaching a component for prototyping knitted or woven structures is needed. We developed an orientation-free component, suitable for weaving. This work has been done towards the MA-thesis of Emmi Pouta, however I was the principal writer in the publication[1] (~90%).

Weaving produces textiles which need work before they are usable in an end product, as opposed to knitted, ready-to-use designs. The benefit is that there are more possibilities for integrating the active elements during the fabrication. As weaving typically utilizes a two-yarn system, i.e., it has a separate warp and weft, this naturally supports the use of different yarns, whereas knitting typically uses only one yarn. These can be varied, and even though looms require considerably more time and effort to set up, they seem to provide a more reliable base for building electronic systems.

lankaaBy combining different threads, and using a sophisticated weaving pattern in a multiple thread system, a two- or multilayer fabric can be created. A typical structure for a multilayer fabric is an empty space sandwiched between two or more fabrics. As fabrics can be created with a combination of threads with different properties, it is possible to create fabrics with computational, sensorial and actuating properties. The most natural way to include a component into the weave is to have it in the form of a thread or a yarn. Connecting components with multiple threads, or applying them afterwards is slow, and adds additional work stages. Multilayer structures cannot be fully utilized, and the possibilities of the weaving process are limited. In order to find a solution suitable for the majority of existing looms, a wire component with multiple connection points was developed. The component is intended to be used in the weft, to be connected either to the conductive yarns in the warp, or via multilayer fabric connection points to other components or conductive yarns.

[1]  Mikkonen J., Pouta E. 2016. Flexible wire-component for weaving electronic textiles, in Proc. 2016 IEEE 66th Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC), Las Vegas, NV, USA, 2016, pp. 1656-1663. doi: 10.1109/ECTC.2016.180

Flexible wire-component