Etching Flex Circuits
You can design, print and etch your own PCBs from a flexible sheet of Kapton coated with a thin layer of copper. To do this yourself you need some special materials and equipment, and if you are not planning on etching circuits more regularly then it can be nice to start by looking for a [...]
When you need you conductors (wires) to be stretchy, one option is to crochet, knit or braid a conductive thread (or even a wire) alongside some elastic. Make sure to tension the elastic as you go so that ultimately the elastic bunches together the strand, allowing it to stretch a certain amount.
Machine-Sewing Solderable Traces
Using Karl Grimm’s copper thread to sew solderable circuit traces to fabric. Karl Grimm’s copper thread is very much like wire, but much more flexible and it doesn’t quite look like wire. I haven’t had much luck using it as the bobbin thread in my sewing machine, but you can sew in place using regular [...]
Plated Fabric Traces
Copper plated traces are flexible and solderable. Start by painting with conductive paint directly onto the fabric where you want the copper to plate to. Then you’ll need to prepare the plating process. It takes only a few minutes to get a nice layer of copper. More information on the plating process can be found [...]
Printed Copper Traces
Flexible circuits can be made from a variety of flexible conductive materials on various substrates. The conductors can be printed, painted, cut&pasted, adhered and fused…
Fabric Ribbon Cable
Dan Riley (www.scisci.org) made a beautiful Fabric Ribbon cable. 8 separate lines of conductive threads are woven into the fabric. The end of the cable is connected to normal 16 pin plug as normal ribbon cable.
knitted stretchy cable
For knitted sensors and interfaces, it will be great if there were also knitted cables. So, I tried it! By using Spool knitting tool (Strickliesel in German), you can make a knitted tube easily. For more easier and faster solution, you can also use automatic Knitting Mill (Strickmühle). This tube is an isolation layer for [...]
Using stretch stitch on sewing machine, you can create stretchy fabric cable. The picture shows 9 line stretchy fabric cable, which resistance is 150 ohm/m.
In most applications it is important to isolate the conductive traces. For stretchy traces this requires a stretchy isolation. So far we have experimented and had good results with: stretchy fabric glue, puffy fabric paint and extra layers of fabric.
Stretchy conductive traces are great for wearables because their stretchiness makes these traces comfortable and durable against wear and strain.
Vinylcut Circuits and Traces
By using Vinyl Cutter , you can cut a copper foil into circuit trace shape and make a soft circuit. There are some nice post from Simon de Bakker and Nadya Peek showing how to make a vinyl cut circuit. Since I had an access to Roland CAMM 1 GX-24E vinyl cutter, I’ve made my own. The [...]
Circuit Sewing Tips
You can make a whole circuit using conductive thread and fabric. Here is some tips, DOs and DONT DOs.. that are learned from many mistakes we made in our past trials.
Non-stretchy traces make very stable connections on a non-stretch fabric but make less or no sense when working with stretchy fabrics.
We haven’t done any consistent experiments for washability of conductive fabrics, threads and connections. But we have washed the Perfect Human costume containing the neoprene bend sensors more than twice and it is still functioning as before. We excluded the collar and the circuitry from these washed.
Lasercut Fabric Circuits and Traces
Fabric PCB’s are flexible, washable (hopefully) and sewable, even with sewing machines. The method we used is basically following the fabric PCB from Leah Buechley. You need a laser cutter to do this method, since the cut pieces are quite small and needs to be accurate. It will be quite difficult to cut this by [...]