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Want a smart fabric? Print it.

December 1st, 2019 / By: / Swatches

Cost-efficient smart textiles that can be laser printed could enable real-time storage of renewable energies for e-textiles. Photo: RMIT University.

What if you could create a smart fabric in just minutes—one that can store energy? Scientists at RMIT University in Australia have developed the technology to make this possible. They’ve developed a laser-printing process to rapidly fabricate textiles that are embedded with energy storage devices. The textiles could be used for a variety of health and safety purposes, including monitoring someone’s vital signs, tracking the location and health status of soldiers in the field or monitoring drivers for fatigue.

In tests, the researchers demonstrated that they can produce a four-inch by four-inch patch in just three minutes that is waterproof, stretchable and integrated with a graphene supercapacitor. These long-lasting energy storage devices can be combined with solar or other power sources and laser-printed directly onto textiles. The devices also overcome the drawbacks of existing e-textile energy storage technologies, including the necessity of stitching batteries into the garments, or using e-fibers that can be cumbersome and also have capacity issues. 

During testing, the graphene-based device remained stable and efficient in mechanical, temperature and washability tests. For more information, visit www.rmit.edu.au