What We Learned at the IFAI Expo 2016

Published: 10/28/2016

If you didn’t make it out to the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) Expo, we’ve got you covered. Here are our takeaways from the event as they relate to the conductive textile/smart clothing industry.

One of the biggest challenges facing smart clothing manufacturers is the availability of a cost-effective conductive yarn. Everyone is looking for a solution that will be cost-competitive yet maintain high performance suitable for smart clothing applications.

The industry is getting creative to address this problem; some are exploring nylon and polyester as more affordable options, others Kevlar as a more flexible and conductive option. We were interested to hear from Dr. Derek Hass from Directed Vapor Technologies International, Inc. (DVTI) about an innovative, cost-effective process which uses a lower level of vacuum to apply a high performance, conductive coating onto fiber.

The development of smart fabric applications is well under way.  Dr. Jesse Jur, professor at NCSU’s College of Textiles, is spearheading research for applications including electronic textiles that respond to chemical, photo and mechanical environmental changes, as well as the enhancement of the mechanical and thermal stability of modified fiber systems.

Dr. Jur’s presentation during the Expo focused on the possibility of conductive ink and conductive fiber. Although he notes that we are likely 10-15 years from seeing this trend kick off, the NCSU booth featured an impressive R&D prototype of a shirt printed with conductive ink (above). Dr. Jur is currently compiling a library of applications for conductive yarns, which will be on display at IDTechEx in December 2016.

It’s an exciting time in the conductive textile arena, where application standards are being established in tandem with prototypes being delivered. Micro-Coax, a Carlisle Interconnect Technologies company, is passionate about the future of the wearable technology industry and was excited to introduce IFAI attendees to ARACON®, a unique, conductive fiber for smart clothing applications. To learn more about ARACON, click here.