Smart Fashion Fabrics, LED’s, 3D Print, E-Inks & More – Fashion Futures & Wearable Technology Series

Smart fabrics are the future of wearable technology, making it possible to create clothing with the technology built into the actual fabric of the garment.  Smart fabrics are really exciting, allowing clothes to change colour, pattern using e-inks, LED’s and now with 3D printing interesting sculptural garments can be created.  Conductive threads, smart inks mean fashion technology clothing can look great without the need of wires, batteries too will not be needed as power maybe one day generated by the wearers body heat.  As with all developing technology some smart fabrics still have a way to go before they can found in clothing selling in your local high-street fashion shop.


Smart Fabrics – My Top Predictions

Thermochromic Inks:  Since the days of the Hyper-glow t-shirt in the 1990’s, colour changing clothing as been out of fashion.  However with 3D printing it is making a bit of a come back, it is possible to print it directly onto fabrics or as part of a 3D object, great for jewellery.

E-Ink: The ink used to make the display on your kindle and it can now be printed onto paper and cloth, read about the technology behind E-ink.  It is now becoming possible to print this ink in colour, the fabric it is printed onto is quite tough so may not be suitable for clothing just yet.

LED Screens:  LED lights woven into fabrics have been around for while however they are very stiff , they work in the same way a TV would with individual lights building up a image.

Solar Cells Printed on Fabric:  I was amazed to discover that with the right ink containing “Photovoltaic Cells” you could print your own solar panels on your printer at home.  This means your coat could be used to power your phone or the lights on your party dress, no need for clunky batteries.

Magnetic Inks:  Magnets can act as conductors and can produce a electrical charge, for example lighting a light bulb.  It is possible to make magnetic ink, this could be combined with 3D printing to produce magnetic objects or printed on garments.

Thermoelectric Generators:  A fabric that can generate electricity from the wearers body heat, it still lacks energy storage ability by Kaist.

Electrochromatic Circuits:  Combing electrochromatic circuits with thermochromatic pigment to create a colour change, the colour change can be activated by the wearer pressing down on touch sensitive button (see my video).

PLED stands for Polymer Light Emitting Diode:  Like the smart screen on a tablet, this technology is yet to be applied to clothing, however it is being used to create ultra thin screens that flex and bend.  Emerging technology for smart fabrics also include light-emitting devices that can be woven into fabrics, again this research is at an early stage.

To learn more about “Fashion Futures & Wearable Technology” check out the rest of my blog.

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