A four-year Functional Electronic Textiles research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council was successfully completed recently. The project involved creation of a semi-automated production line to embed semi-conductor devices within yarn. As a result, the Advanced Textiles Research Group were able to collaborate with industry and academic partners to make several prototype demonstrators. These are shown in the photos below. The knowledge created was disseminated in refereed journal publications, trade shows and conferences, plus two workshops.
Further details of the Advanced Textiles Research Group’s work via this link: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/groups-and-centres/groups/advanced-textiles
A cycling jacket with LED illuminated yarn within the weave
Detail of the inside of a cycling suit covered in electronic yarns containing thermistors to measure the temperature of the skin
A dress illuminated with LEDs included within the Advanced Textiles Research Group’s electronic yarn. The dress was made by Bonnie Binary.
This four year research project was a collaboration between the Advanced Textiles Research Group at Nottingham Trent University and Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. We acknowledge funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Project title: Novel manufacturing methods for functional electronic textiles (EP/M015149/1).
The Advanced Textiles Research Group exhibited at Loughborough University’s Intersections conference at their London campus on 13th September 2017. The conference was organised by the Textile Design Research Group at Loughborough University with the aim of ‘exploring collaborations in textile design research’: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/aed/staff-research/intersections/
The display at Intersections gave participants the opportunity to handle electronic yarns, so that they could feel the flexibility of the yarn and the very small size of the components included within the yarns. Jussi Mikkonen of Aalto University, who works on development of textile semiconductors, commented that ‘this is the right way [to insert electronics into textiles]’ on seeing the electronic yarns. ATRG’s collaborations with industry were appreciated by the conference organisers, leading to input requested from Dorothy Hardy during a discussion on reconciling the immediacy of industry’s needs with the amount of research required to develop prototypes. Experience of industry requests for reliable, washable, waterproof electronic yarns was relevant here.
The conference and exhibition gave the opportunity to explore how electronic yarns could be presented within a textile design context, learning from the many examples of collaboration that were discussed.
The photos here show the Advanced Textiles Research Group’s stand and other images from the exhibition preview and conference.
TechXLR8 at London’s Excel centre this week showed the range of developments that are happening in technology that can link to the internet of things. Companies working on hardware, software, plus augmented and virtual reality were there. The Advanced Textiles Research Group’s electronic yarns offer exciting possibilities for use with this technology. Electronic yarns include sensing or output functions within a flexible drapeable yarn, so are ideal for applications where electronics are to be integrated into clothing and moveable structures, without compromising their performance.
Carnivals are being celebrated this year in the Advanced Textiles Research Group. A project is underway to make a carnival costume that incorporates electronic yarn. The yarn will contain tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and will be able to bend and flex as the costume stretches and moves with the dancer’s movements. Tatiana Woolley is the creative lead on the project. Earlier this year she went to North-Eastern Brazil to learn more about the carnival tradition. Dorothy Hardy joined her from the Advanced Textiles Research Group for Olinda and Recife’s carnival celebrations. Many thanks to Tatiana and Dave Woolley for the photos here:
Vibration sensors have been fitted into gloves in an Advanced Textiles Research Group Project run by Dr Theodore Hughes-Riley and Professor Tilak Dias. The gloves can alert wearers to excessive levels of vibration that could lead to health problems. More details here:
Widespread takeup of new technologies can be achieved by making the new technology appeal to consumers.
This applies to electronic textiles and to solar cells, which can be incorporated into decorative glazing with some careful design. An article about Dorothy Hardy’s glass incorporating solar cells has just been published in the Glazier magazine. This magazine gives news from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, which is ‘dedicated to the preservation of stained glass and the skills necessary to produce this beautiful art form.’
More about the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass can be found here:
A link to the Summer 2016 edition of their magazine can be found here:
And Dorothy’s article is here:
A photo from the article, showing a drawing of solar cells disguised within a design
The Advanced Textiles Research Group’s development of heated textiles has led to an award-winning collaboration with H Stoll AG & Co. KG: experts in development of knitting technology. Heated mesh within a balaclava warms air to make breathing easier for athletes during winter. Click on this link to see Stoll’s beautiful brochure with more details, including an interview with Professor Tilak Dias on page 10:
Professor Clemens Thornquist was the guest presenter at Nottingham Trent University’s CADBE conference yesterday. His ideas about the challenges to onward movement in design gave some innovative possibilities that could be used in development of electronic textiles. He showed new methods of pattern-making for use in design of clothing. These can improve the fit and drape of garments. This could also provide a new start point for design of clothing that contains electronics. Novel designs could be developed that integrate the process of designing electronic circuits for use on the body with the method of measuring up and cutting of textiles to ensure good feel and performance for wearers. The electronic yarn that is being developed by the Advanced Textiles Research Group could be integrated into clothing at many points in the manufacturing process. The way in which it is included can be altered depending on the chosen design process.
The start points for development of designs that Professor Thornquist presented were exciting. How about using a completely different discipline and creative technique? He showed Josef Albers’ colour compositions that make some colours recede and others stand out as if the 2D image were 3D (http://www.albersfoundation.org/). A Bach fugue gave another start point with its rigorous method of taking a theme and exploring it again and again, combining and repeating it in altered ways. The possibilities are looking exciting.
Here’s a link to more details about Clemens’ work at at the University of Borås:
And here’s a photo of Clemens (on the right) in discussion with Kath Townsend and Tony Kent.
Ania Sadkowska’s beautifully-crafted clothing explores the intersection of sociology, psychology and art and design practices. Her recent work: Fashioning Age: A phenomenological exploration of older men’s experience of fashion and clothing, shows how ordinary clothing can be transformed into something different and special. And it takes place in the same department as the Advanced Textiles Research Group’s investigations into methods of fitting electronics within textiles and clothing. Ania writes about her work: ‘As a concept-led fashion and textiles practitioner I believe that the human body and embodied experiences are the never-ending sources of inspiration; my interest in fashion as a communication tool, as well as interdisciplinary approach, underpins each and every one of my projects. By combining sophisticated craftsmanship with contemporary and innovative technologies in the exploration of ageing as a biological, psychological and social phenomenon, I attempt to push the boundaries of fashion and art, and to position myself as a fashion and textiles designer, artist and researcher.’
There are rich possibilities for collaboration in the School of Art and Design: the clothes of the future can be designed here combining fashion, innovation and technology.
Dark, square solar cells can look good in windows, but it took some research to find out how to make these materials that generate electricity fit into colourful, decorative glazing. Stained glass and other types of ornamental glazing brighten up many buildings. But with increasing concerns about the impact that buildings have on the environment, there’s a need to ensure that every part of the architecture contributes to a building’s energy performance, including the glazing. Putting solar cells into windows to generate electricity seems an obvious step, as adding solar cells to a building is the best way to use architecture to generate electricity. But it is tricky to fit these high-tech materials into glazing designs that also look good and let in some light.
Whilst finishing her PhD at Heriot-Watt University, Dorothy Hardy wrote a paper about her stay at Peters Glass Studios in Paderborn, Germany: a world leader in restoration of stained glass and in fitting solar cells into decorative glass. The paper describes how Dorothy used glass paint to disguise solar cells within decorative glazing designs. The trick was to surround the square cell shapes with dark paint so that when light shines through the windows, the square shapes are then disguised within patterns of paint. Adding reflective, platinum paint onto the glass behind the solar cells gave a way of hiding the backs of the solar cells whilst bouncing light back into the design. The paper is free for anyone to access from the Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning:
The photos here show the basic method of surrounding a solar cell with glass paint to disguise the shape once it is held up to the light, as well as the colourful window that Dorothy designed and made. This contains fluorescent dyes within the sticky, encapsulant material that hold the solar cells in place between two panes of glass.
The challenges of fitting high-tech into traditional continue with Dorothy’s work at Nottingham Trent University. Here, in the Advanced Textile Research Group, there is work on fitting electronics into textiles. This gives many possibilities for making functional devices part of clothing that looks and feels good to wear. One important area of research is to find ways of using textiles to make life easier for those with chronic medical conditions: incorporating electronic devices within clothing, so that medical devices can be disguised within comfortable and fashionable clothing.