You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Skip to main content

Researchers Laser Print Smart Textile in Minutes

Three minutes is all it takes to fabricate a small piece of waterproof textile that’s stretchable and ready to have energy cells like graphene capacitators laser printed on to create solutions for health monitoring and a range of other smart fabric applications.

Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University of Shanghai for Science and Technology said embedded energy storage devices directly into textiles avoid the problems posed by electrical wires and circuits sewn into fabrics.

“Current approaches to smart textile energy storage, like stitching batteries into garments or using e-fibers, can be cumbersome and heavy, and can also have capacity issues,” Dr. Litty Thekkakara, a researcher at the RMIT School of science who led the investigation and co-developed the technology, told EurekAlert. “These electronic components can also suffer short-circuits and mechanical failure when they come into contact with sweat or with moisture from the environment.”

The research team connected the fabric’s “supercapacitator” to a solar energy cell to prove the textile’s conductive qualities. The result: a washable smart textile that can be produced quickly and safely.

“Our graphene-based supercapacitor is not only fully washable, it can store the energy needed to power an intelligent garment—and it can be made in minutes at large scale,” Dr. Thekkakara noted. “By solving the energy storage-related challenges of e-textiles, we hope to power the next generation of wearable technology and intelligent clothing.”

A March report by Grand View Research pegs the market value for smart textiles at $5.55 billion by 2025, which represents a combined annual growth rate of 30.4 from 2019. Intelligent fabrics are eyed as strategic ways to relay information to and from the wearer, “such as physiological parameters including location, heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature,” the market research firm added.

The RMIT-led team has filed an patent application for the smart textile technology stemming from their research, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports.