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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    From 2013-2014 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
    Conductive Materials

    Conductive Threads

    also see: conductive yarn
    conductive threads are usually manufactured for anti-static, electromagnetic shielding, intelligent textiles, wearable technology, data transfer and heating purposes. Most threads are metalized with an alloy of various metals, which can include silver, copper, tin and nickel. The core is normally cotton or polyester.
    Conductive threads are uninsulated and sewing them tightly to metal usually makes for a good connection, though this connection tends to loosen over time where movement occurs. One way of avoiding this is to include a squishy material, such as stretch conductive fabric underneath the stitches, or a non-conductive material, so long as it does not obstruct the electrical connection.

    see also: Syuzi Pakhchyan’s summary of conductive threads on Fashioning Technology
    >> http://www.fashioningtech.com/page/conductive-thread

    About

    Thread is a type of yarn intended for sewing by hand or machine.
    Example: 117/17 2ply thread
    - 117 is the Denier weight (grams per 9000 meters)
    - 17 is the number of filaments
    - 2ply is the number of strands

    Silver Plated Nylon 117/17 2ply

    100 Ohm / 20 cm
    Manufactured by Shieldex, distributed by LessEMF and Sparkfun.

    Silver Plated Nylon 234/34 4ply

    17 Ohm / 20 cm
    Manufactured by Shieldex, distributed by Sparkfun.
    >> http://www.shieldextrading.net/

    Sparkfun writes that they have worked with their supplier to reduce fraying.
    Right photo from Leah Buechley’s Flickr >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/leahbuechley

    Shieldex Conductive Threads

    Manufactures both Silver Plated Nylon 117/17 2ply and 234/34 4ply threads and many more variations thereof, that I have yet to test…

    Resistive thread 66 Yarn 22+3ply 110 PET

    4 K Ohm / 20cm
    Distributed by LessEMF, great for sewing resistors and nice to sew with.

    Lame Life Saver

    20 Ohm / 20 cm
    High conductivity, a bit thick, but okay to sew with by hand and machine.

    Close-ups of thread Lame Life Saver (photos taken from the Lame Life Saver Website)

    Stretch conductive thread

    800 – 1.8K Ohm / 20 cm
    Manufactured by Fine Silver Products. The conductive part of the thread is not stretchy itself, but it is wound around a stretchy fiber. It is nice, but annoying to work with.
    >> http://www.fine-silver-productsnet.com/elcoya1.html

    Electrisola

    Enameled copper wire. Very conductive, very thin, quite flexible (not in sewing machine), isolated!
    >> http://www.elektrisola.com/de/home.html

    Metalo Koper Bouclette

    >> http://www.bart-francis.be/index.php?action=article&aid=860&group_id=50&lang=NL

    Inox

    >> http://www.bart-francis.be/index.php?action=article&aid=282&group_id=50&lang=NL

    Gunze & Mitsufuji (ETC SI30)

    6 Ohm / 20 cm
    The highest conductive thread i’ve tested so far. Wonderful to work with, hard to obtain and expensive.

    Karl Grimm

    These threads have thin flattened wires wrapped around them to make them conductive. this makes them stiffer and less sewable than metallized yarns, but you can solder to them!

    Here are photos of the “datasheets”:
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/3450531172/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/3449716377/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/3450531656/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/3449716527/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    High-Flex Nr. 4355 Kupfer Blank (great for making speaker coils!)
    Verseilung: 7×1
    Lahnumspinnung: 1-fach
    Länge: ca. 2100 m/kg
    Durchmesser: ca. 0,55 mm
    Widerstand: ca. 1,3 W/M
    Reißfestigkeit: ca. 5,0
    Kupferquerschnitt: ca. 0,025 qmm

    Baekert bekinox


    Some more Bekinox samples provided by The Swedish School of Textile

    Bekinox VN12/1*275/100Z
    When current is applied, it emits heat. (we tested with 5V 400-500mA to change the thermochromic textile paint. This will differ with kinds of thermochromic paints and environmental temperature)


    Bekinox Yarn 20% stainless steel fiber 80% polyester (the tag was missing and not for sure)
    very similar to Schoeller Nm 50/2 conductive yarn.

    Micro-Coax

    X-Static

    >> http://www.x-staticfiber.com/

    Offray

    Offray is a company that makes narrow fabrics and some of these include conductive traces.
    Offray >> http://www.osnf.com/ (USA)

    Jumbo

    This German company makes stretchy conductive traces inside narrow fabrics, but I have not been able to obtain any samples.

    Make your own conductive thread

    >> http://www.instructables.com/id/Conductive_Thread_Wind_up/

    Above photo by Lynne Bruning >> http://lynnebruning.com/

    Suppliers

    Less EMF >> http://www.lessemf.com/fabric.html (New Jersey, USA)
    Gunze >> http://www.gunze.co.jp/e/english/index.html (Japan)
    Mitsufuji >> http://www.mitsufuji.co.jp/e/index.html (Japan)
    Sparkfun >> http://www.sparkfun.com/ (Colorado, USA)
    Karl Grimm >> http://karl-grimm.com (DE)
    Bekaert Bekinox >> http://www.bekaert.com (Belgium)
    Shieldex >> http://www.shieldextrading.net (USA)
    Lame Lifesaver >> http://members.shaw.ca/ubik/thread/order.html (Canada)
    Fine Silver Products >> http://www.fine-silver-productsnet.com/pycoya.html
    http://www.shieldextrading.net/ (USA)
    X-Static >> http://www.x-staticfiber.com
    http://www.noblebiomaterials.com/category.asp?itemid=51
    Statex >> http://www.statex.biz/ger/index.php (DE)
    Micro-Coax Aracon >> http://www.micro-coax.com/pages/technicalinfo/aracon/aracon_about.asp (USA)
    Ajin Electron >> http://ajinelectron.co.kr/eng/index.php (Korea)
    Syscom Advanced Materials – Amberstrand >> http://www.amberstrand.com/ (USA)
    StaticFaction Inc. >> http://www.staticfaction.com/products-yarns.html (MA, USA)
    Offray – Specialty Narrow Fabrics >> http://osnf.com/ (USA)
    >> http://www.mutr.co.uk/index.php?cPath=6_572 (UK)
    >> http://www.3ltex.com/ (China)

    28 Comments so far

    1. Jane on August 26th, 2009

      I’m trying to find a clear-coated conductive thread or non-kink wire for using as the string of a beaded LED necklace (so the wires need to be twisted together, hence the need for them being coated). It also needs to be solderable. Do you know of anything like this? Or of a very flexible clear coating I can use to coat my own thread/wire? This needs to be able to fit through a 1mm bead hole. Right now I’m using guitar string and slicing it where I attach the 0603 smt LED, but this obviously weakens the necklace. So I’m looking to use two twisted coated wires and not cut them, merely strip the coating where I solder on the LED. Any help would be great. Please e-mail me. Thank you. aliasjanedoe@hotmail.com

    2. Rep on September 22nd, 2009

      +100

    3. [...] there is also good introduction at kobakant. This entry was posted in Workshops. Bookmark the permalink. ← [...]

    4. Teck Koon on August 3rd, 2010

      Hey,

      I’d like to do some test myself on Jumbo’s Elastic Conductive Cord.
      May I know how I can get some?

      Teck Koon

    5. admin on August 7th, 2010

      I was only able to receive a sample of the Jumbo elastic cord. Try writing them and ask for some or where to purchase!

    6. jagada on September 29th, 2010

      i want to get a fabric which has property of liquid transfer and after spreading the liquid ,it will be evaporated by supply of electricity. i.e the fabric have capability of heat transfer and liquid transfer through out the fabric.

    7. [...] Conductive Thread: How To Get What You Want has short reviews of many kinds: http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=379 [...]

    8. Claire Fall on November 10th, 2010

      I wanted to produce a wearable garment and thought about using conductive thread, i came across a website http://www.possytronics.co.uk by accident and purchased a sewable amplifier for ipods. you simply sew it into your clothing and attach the speakers using conductive thread and plug in your ipod.

      I have made various garments which included flashing leds and music.
      A brilliant website with video demonstrations. I use these kits within my textiles lessons.

    9. admin on November 10th, 2010

      it’s a really interesting website but the web design (and also the name ‘possytronics’) are rather off-putting. i don’t want to criticize the content, i think it is great! but they might want to think a bit more about the look and feel of things.

    10. andre on December 22nd, 2010

      neat page, lots of links.

      Has anyone managed to find a foolproof way to connect SMD LEDs to thread?

      about the only technique that could work is durite tyre repair cement (from the £1.50 or so bicycle repair kits) mixed with graphite lubricating powder from any good lock shop.
      I got mine from Island Lock & Safe, comes in either a black or red bottle and either will work for this application.

      Only problem is that it can short out if used on fine interconnects.

      ideas peoples?
      -A

    11. admin on December 22nd, 2010

      Leah Buechley has a great way of soldering crimp beads to SMD LEDs to make them sewable:
      >> http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/grad_work/diy/diy_tank.html#construction

      and somebody designed a rig for doing it:
      >> http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Bead-Jig/

      another option would be to sew with a thread that you can solder to (for example Karl Grim threads)!

    12. dougal woodcox on January 4th, 2011

      wondering if anyone knows of suppliers for conductive fabrics/tapes in canada?

    13. cherry on January 17th, 2011

      Our company is professional dealing with the conductive fabric We can offer you many kinds of conductive fabrics with best price. Such as: Plain weave / Rip-stop / Non-woven /Mesh/ Black coating / Flame retardant / Halogen free flame retardant and so on. The fabrics can be used for EMI gaskets, EMI foams, Conductive tapes, Tents, Garments and so on.
      Our products comply with RoHS, REACH, and UL 94V0 standard,and have been used widely in IT, War industry, Individual protection and so on.
      You can completely trust in us. We have done business with FOXCONN, Parker Hannifin and many other companies for years. Our products are now used by many famous companies: Apple, Samsung, Dell, Matsushita, Quidway…
      If you want to know more about us, pls. visit: http://www.saintyoo.com
      If you want samples, we can send you for free.
      Looking forward to hearing from you.

    14. Luzi on February 22nd, 2011

      i wonder what thread is the best in the end. I bought sum 4ply from shieldex, cos 4ply is probably sturdier than 2ply, and it cost me bout 35€ (20€ for the thread and 15€ for shipping, which is their standard billing) and now i found out, that it’s too thick for the needles of my (standard) sewing machine. It just gets stuck in the needle’s ear while sewing. I guess, i will have to use it on the machines in the saddlery i work for, but that was not the way i wanted it to go. If only there were sum really good test results on which threads are good for sewing and which ones are not on this site (or somewhere else). That would be a great addition to these conductive-threads articles (i would do it myself, if i could afford the material costs with my low-cost-life i live in)

    15. admin on February 23rd, 2011

      try using it as the bobbin thread in your sewing machine! i’ve been able to sew with it no problem, even on not so great quality sewing machines.

    16. Luzi on March 4th, 2011

      hmm, now that you mention it, it sounds like a good idea, thanx…
      (Btw: My plan, as first E-project, is to build the ultimate tool bag for my best girlfriend who is a fire-juggler; build from fire-resistant plane/molton enhanced with LED-stripes so that a firejuggler find’s his/her tools in the darkest nite, heeheehee…)

    17. Lukas/Luzi on October 1st, 2011

      finished my jugglers’-bag sum months ago now and have to say that it’s kinda pain in the butt for the connectivity while using the shieldex yarn. for connecting threads and wires, i punched small holes into the material and passed screws that hold washers to have a broader “area” to ensure the connection. And i had to run several tests till every line worked fine. But as any tightened material “works”, connection can get lost. And after two months of use, that’s yet the reason why the bag i built is half way out of current again.
      The shieldex yarn is not fully connective as it consists of a mix of nylon and the conductive material itself and one has to find a conducting area by turning around the wire while holding it onto the connection of the circuit.
      I’m looking forward to seeing how Grimm’s yarn works as their nylon thread fully coated with conductive material sounds much more stable than shieldex’ is at the moment. I wouldn’t suggest to use shieldex for projects that are moved.

    18. Henry on October 24th, 2011

      Hi I have a product that i have to intertwine the conductive string that has elastic properties. Can u help me?

    19. Tina on December 6th, 2011

      I am looking for a conductive thread to sew into the fingertips of gloves which will allow them to be used with a touch screen phone. I found a kit on vogue fabric store, but I want to be able to buy it in bigger quantities.

      Thank you!

    20. Tom on December 9th, 2011

      Hi!
      IMATTEC (France) http://www.imattec.com also produce a very large range of yarns including stainless steel fiber (pure and blends) and other metals (fiber, fialements…).
      Tom

    21. Kit-of-No-Parts on February 17th, 2012

      [...] For more info, please see the following post >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=379 [...]

    22. Lukas/Luzi on May 2nd, 2013

      Dammit, admin, i really wonder why this is called “how to get what you want”. This is just a product-list. This way i can order tons of samples from different suppliers in different countries. I know what i want: i want a thread that i can machine-sew and that is conductive. You got all the samples and all the info – so why don’t you start givin us suggestions on what’s the best thread to use? This really drives me MAD. I’m a tinkerer, not a capitalist; i can’t afford spools of each yarn. I tried statex, which is basically crap when you use it for e-clothes. Then i ordered samples from Karl Grimm: they sent me 15cm-samples, not enough to try it out on a machine, they told me, a cone of copper yarn is almost 90€. So what do i do? Trial and error until bankruptcy? That is definately not “how to get what i want”, so come on and help me finally.

    23. JJFrank on May 3rd, 2013

      Lukas/Luzi,

      You don’t sound like a very nice person. Try to be nicer, will you please?

      Here is conductive thread:

      http://www.canakit.com/conductive-thread-117-17-2ply-dev-08544.html

      They also have 4 ply.

      It really wasn’t that hard to find.

    24. Lukas/Luzi on May 5th, 2013

      Sorry, bout being so nasty, but here’s a ton of various threads listed here, but without any recommendations. Conductive threads are damn expensive for private use and there’s definately a need for shared experience to avoid frustration with unusable material and to keep costs low as possible. This list exists for years and even growing bigger, but there’s no such info. Neither are you providing such info. I don’t need a link to sellers – there are tons of such links on this page (and i appreciate that), what i need is the experience of the ones who already bought, used and jugded these threads. What’s so diffy about that? i need to know, if a thread’s conuctivity is good, if it hooks in the needle’s ear of a machine, things/qualities you learn by use. Don’t tell me there’s no elaborate info. I want you to share it to make me capable to distinct the different threads and to apply this info onto different projects of different materials: You already used a certain thread? Great, would you, with sugar on top of it, lemme know the pros and cons in your humble opinion?

      You provide me a link – there are links above already, each pic got a link, and no, it’s not hard to find (i can click on any listed link i want), but it does not show any qualities. Am i so abstract?

      Right now, i just got the option to buy any listed thread using the even listed links and find out what it’s all about by myself. And when i’m done, i’m broke. I don’t wanna be broke. See, i don’t wanna harm you, i just need more info.

    25. Nike Free Run on May 6th, 2013

      http://pinterest.com/nikefreestore/ Cheap Nike Shoeshttp://pinterest.com/nikefreestore/ Nike Free

    26. [...] heavy metal bead strung on conductive thread and surrounded by conductive fabric petals, makes for a simple six way digital tilt switch. When [...]

    27. […] Hilo Conductor  ( Cooking hacks ). Mas informacion sobre este material: Kobakant – Bateria 3V ( amazon) – Adhesivo de cobre ( Ebay, Farnell, Sparkfun) – Leds de colores […]

    28. ARTELEKIDS on November 10th, 2013

      […] Hilo Conductor  ( Reflexiona, Ultra-lab, Cooking hacks). Mas informacion sobre este material: Kobakant – Bateria 3V ( amazon) – Adhesivo de cobre ( Ebay, Farnell, Sparkfun) – Leds de colores – […]

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