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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    From 2013-2015 Mika is a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley


    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab


    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition
    Connections

    Soldering Conductive Thread

    also see: Materials >> Conductive Threads
    You can’t solder to most conductive threads, but there are conductive threads that are actually made by spinning very thin flattened wire around a soft, flexible core, and these are great for soldering to.


    In particular I did tests on a range of these threads from a company in Germany called Karl Grimm and these gave the best results. Their threads have Kevlar, and Vectran cores with very thin flattened wires wrapped around them. So the solder makes the connection to wire and not to thread, and that is why the results are so good. The threads are very soft and flexible, but the wires are visible and I imagine make them less fit for the sewing machine. Aesthetically they are very decorative.
    >> http://karl-grimm.com/navi.swf

    8 Comments so far

    1. Alison on September 22nd, 2009

      Hey guys, I have a great method for this. Get a metal crimp bead from a jewelry store and crimp it around the conductive thread, then you can solder that to anything. Or you can crimp the bead to both the thread and the wire if you need too. Way easy to do. I use this method all the time and it works great.

    2. Luzi on February 22nd, 2011

      sounds good, but i wonder, if normal solder clips from the hardware-store aren’t cheaper and euqally useful.

    3. MRI on July 11th, 2011

      Hi,
      How can I purchase theses threads in USA?
      Thanks

    4. adrian on November 10th, 2011

      You’ll sometimes find these same spiral threads in super-flex wire, like that used in telephone cords.

      It’s handy that you can solder to it, but I think Alison’s idea is better – the electronics industry only solders flexible wire directly when cheapness is the overriding consideration. Soldering a flexy wire makes it stiff, and the solder wicks up the wire so it’s stiff for a little way outside the joint. Then the point where the wire changes from flexy to solder-hardened is where it always breaks. That’s why crimps have become so popular in the industry (and they’re faster, too .. the downside is that the proper tools to fit them are expensive).

    5. Meredith on November 22nd, 2011

      Heya-
      After a year of pestering them Karl Grimm finally sold me some of their thread and it works great. I sell it at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ladycartoonist?ref=si_shop

      It has way lower resistance than the other threads, too- 2.5 ohms a yard.

    6. admin on November 23rd, 2011

      wonderful, this is great to hear that we can now buy small amounts of karl grimm thread through etsy!

    7. […] thread), stainless steel thread (3 diameters, tarnish resistant, also works as a heating element), solderable thread. Disadvantages of conductive thread: silver-based thread oxidizes, frays easily, knots come […]

    8. rather not on May 10th, 2013

      Very interesting.

      There are other methods of interconnecting fabric to wire but the tubular crimp mentioned above works great in most cases. There are silver based conductive adhesives from Elsworthy(resinlab) which work great but take time to cure. They are a lot less brittle and difficult to work with than solder. They are $$ though. Its also worth looking at conductive tapes from Adhesives Research and 3M. Some adhesives conduct in 1 direction only which is very handy. 3M 7303 and 3M 9707? come to mind.

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