Fraunhofer opens e-textile electronics lab

Fraunhofer opens e-textile electronics lab

By Nick Flaherty

Research lab Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin has opened a collaborative e-textile lab with Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin for textiles integrated with electronics.

The Textile Prototyping Lab (TPL) is open to OEMs and researchers for interfaces between textiles and electronics to the testing of process chains, where parts of the laboratory or even the entire laboratory can be used.

Designers can make use of a prototyping kit developed at Fraunhofer IZM that includes a series of electronic modules, LEDs and sensors (above). These modules can be embroidered by hand as well as by machine.

The collaboration between the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin and Fraunhofer IZM had already produced developments that combine art and research. For example, a light rail for lamps that is made of a soft and conductive textile belt was created in cooperation with the designer Stefan Diez. For the Hans Riegel Foundation, the Touch Tomorrow educational project developed an interactive jacket was developed that can control the colour of integrated LEDs via arm movements.

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“Not only the modular workstations and the meeting area are attractive for joint project work, especially the machinery offers a wide range for interested parties,” said Malte von Krshiwoblozki, who is providing scientific support for the project at Fraunhofer IZM. “The ‘sewing and embroidery’ work area, for example, is equipped with several sewing machines as well as a computer-controlled embroidery machine. It thus becomes central to the TPL, as textile finishing with small-format machines is the focus of this lab’s work.”

Another area of the lab covers “Cutting & Separating” with a laser cutter and a cutting plotter. In addition, there are several presses and laminators, a soldering station and a 3D printer.

“For particularly durable electronic textiles, the textile bonder developed and built by Fraunhofer IZM researchers can also be used in cooperative projects of the Textile Prototyping Lab. The versatile modules of the prototyping kit are deliberately designed so that integration into the textile can take place not only with classic textile technology such as embroidery during the prototyping phase, but also for subsequent, more industrial implementations using the textile bonder. We at Fraunhofer IZM are available to provide advice and support during the realization of the textile projects, so that the artists’ ideas can be enriched using such new technology,” said von Krshiwoblozki.

The team of the Textile Prototyping Lab is open for ideas from start-ups, SMEs as well as industry partners.

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