Joint Venture Leads to Durable, Flexible, Washable E-Textiles for Smart Garments

Powercast Corporation and Liquid X have teamed up to enable cost-effective manufacturing of durable, flexible, washable e-textiles that could be wirelessly recharged. Using e-textiles made with printed electronics, garment manufacturers could embed battery-powered health and wealth features, movement monitoring, or LED-based illumination directly into garments.

Liquid X and Powercast showcased a wirelessly rechargeable smart athletic shirt prototype at CES in January 2020. The shirt illuminates using printed electronics, embedded power harvesting technology, and LEDs powered over the air up to 10 feet away from the wireless transmitter.

Unlike smart garments that use snap-on electronics and battery packs that must be detached before the garment is washed, the electronics made with these e-textiles could be washed without the extra battery-removal step

Using Liquid X’s proprietary ink technology, manufacturers can print circuitry directly onto a garment, add Powercast’s wireless power technology and a battery, and seal it all into the garment during the manufacturing process.

First, circuitry is printed on the fabric using Liquid X’s proprietary particle-free ink, including Powercast’s RF wireless receiving antenna.

Next, Powercast’s Powerharvester® RF wireless power receiver chip, a battery, and other components are mounted onto the printed traces.

Finally, an encapsulant provides a high strength waterproof bond to seal in all of the electronics.

To recharge the battery, consumers simply place a Powercast RF transmitter in the closet or drawer where they store their smart garment. It transmits RF energy over the air to the RF receiver embedded in the wearable, which then converts it to direct current (DC) to charge the battery.

About Powercast: Powercast, established in 2003, is the leading provider of RF-based wireless power technologies that work in the far field (up to 80 feet) to provide power-over-distance, eliminate or reduce the need for batteries, and power or charge devices without wires and connectors. For more information: www.powercastco.com.

About Liquid X: Liquid X is an advanced manufacturer of functional metallic inks. The company partners with manufacturers in the electronics industry to develop and print functional components for devices such as sensors, heating elements, and smart textiles. Using proprietary particle-free inks, printing capabilities and technical expertise, Liquid X takes an application from concept to commercialization using additive manufacturing techniques. For more information: www.liquid-x.com

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Next Dynamics Introduces a Desktop 3D Printer for Functional Electronics

Next Dynamics in Berlin has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a multi-material and electronics 3D printer called The NexD1.

The device is capable of printing fully functional circuits, opening the door for high-end electronics prototyping. The NexD1 is fast, precise, and fits on any desktop. It is available starting at $2,499.

The NexD1 uses a technology called DigiJet, which is similar to industrial PolyJet technology. DigiJet prints a wide range of materials at a precision of 10 microns, including special resins with nanoparticles and pigments. It prints fully functional low resistance circuits, by galvanizing a nanoparticle infused resin.

The nozzle and pre-heating system ensure a super precise flow and accurate deposition of the material that gets cured by a high-powered, wide UV laser after each layer. This results in highly conductive layers with a constant and low internal resistance.

“Unlike other 3D printer manufacturers that buy their printhead technology from big companies like Ricoh and Xerox, we have developed our own proprietary printhead,” said Co-Founder Ludwig Faerber. “This allows us to drastically reduce production costs, increase the capabilities of our printer and offer unrivaled value to backers.”

The NexD1 can print six materials at once and combine them for limitless characteristics. The cartridges can be hot swapped and materials can be changed on the go. This includes a large array of photopolymers and third-party materials with characteristics ranging from conductivity, transparency, flexibility, high strength, high temperature resistance, color and support materials.

Features

Printed Electronics: Print 3D, low-resistance circuits
Wi-Fi: Connect with any smartphone, print from anywhere
Touch Screen: Easy and intuitive access
Ultra-High Resolution: 10 micron precision in xyz
Multi-Material: Print and combine 6 materials at once
Build Volume: 20 x 20 x 20 cm build volume
On-board slicer: Slice and print with the touch of your finger
Size: A compact 42 x 42 x 42 cm will fit your desktop
Smart Refill: Smart and easy swapping of cartridges
Support Material: Eco-friendly, non-toxic water-soluble support material
Silent: Silent operation for a noise-free environment
Eco: Cheap, non-toxic additive manufacturing

“We like to think of the NexD1 as a “start-up starter.” You can create and iterate almost anything. We hope that our tech will become a launching point for new businesses to explore the potential of 3D manufacturing,” said Faerber.

Next Dynamics’ Kickstarter campaign runs through January 12, 2017. For a full rundown of the pledge levels visit their Kickstarter page.

SGIA Expo Preview: Printed Electronics Symposium

Printed electronics are functional electronics in which lines of conductive materials are laid down through screen printing, inkjet printing, gravure printing, flexography, lithography or other printing method.

Because printing represents a low-cost method of fabricating electronics, printed electronics can help expand the “Internet of Things” that will enable all types of networked objects to collect and exchange data.

Printed electronics are already being used to embed circuitry and sensors into textiles, apparel, wallcoverings, labels, and furnishings.

SGIA-PrintedElectronicsLogoTo help printing business owners learn more about emerging technologies and opportunities in printed electronics, the SGIA is hosting a Printed Electronics Symposium on September 13 and 14 in conjunction with the SGIA Expo, September 14-16 in Las Vegas.

The Printed Electronics symposium program runs from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm on Tuesday and from 8:30 pm to Noon on Wednesday. There is a networking breakfast at 7:30 am each day and a reception at 5 pm on Tuesday.

Topics to be discussed each day are as follows;

Tuesday, September 13
  • NanoCopper Ink and Paste Conductors Printed on Flexible Substrates
  • Advances in Flexible Substrate Technology to Improve Resolution, Definition, and Accutance of Screen Printed Conductors
  • The Emergence of Capacitive Switch Technologies
  • Strategic Designs for Printing Textile Electronics
  • Advanced Functional Coating Brings Drying to the Fore
  • Isolating Screen Process Variables for Non-Standard Inks and Substrates: A Case Study
  • Advancements in Film Insert Molding, Designs, Materials, and Electronics
  • Printed Electronics in the Third Dimension
Wednesday, September 14
  • Solutions for When Standard Connectors Do Not Meet the Requirements of Printed Medical Sensors
  • A Case Study of Capacity Sensor Design and Production for Medical Applications
  • Designing Smart Devices with Force Sensing Technology
  • Printing on Flexible Hybrid Electronics System Integration

Speakers will include experts from MacDermid Autotype, Intrinsiq Materials, Chromaline Screen Print Products, GM Nameplate, NC State University, Natgraph Ltd, HPCI Hazardous Print Consulting, nScrypt, California Polytechnic State University-Graphic Communication Department, and Teksan.

The IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries® has partnered with SGIA to offer two education sessions during the Symposium. IPC is a global trade association dedicated to furthering the competitive excellence and financial success of its members from the electronics industry.

The sessions at the SGIA Printed Electronics Symposium run concurrently with the SGIA Industrial Printing Symposium.  Registrants can choose to attend sessions at either the Industrial Printing Symposium or Printed Electronics Symposium.

If you register before August 23, you can receive $100 off the full registration fee of $425 for SGIA members and $475 for non-members.