Fraunhofer ISC: Elastic sensors for smart textiles


Smart materials and embedded electronics create the conditions for innovative design and new applications in the field of intelligent textiles, electronic interconnections, controls and displays. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC (Würzburg, Germany) with its Center Smart Materials is working on silicon-based materials, adapted printing pastes and efficient production technologies in order to exploit the application potential of expandable sensors and conductors, to inspire new product ideas and to accelerate the implementation.

For the textile industry smart textiles offer a new attractive market segment. They can be used in various application fields, such as posture monitoring for improved workplace ergonomics, ambient assisted living, automotive, and sports. The prerequisites for integrating intelligent functions in textiles are correspondingly flexible and resilient functional elements.

Fraunhofer ISC develops strain and pressure sensors based on extremely elastic dielectric elastomers (DES) especially for use in textiles. DES are a new class of mechanical sensors to measure deformations, forces and pressures. Because of their high elasticity and their soft and flexible characteristic DES are especially suitable for integration into woven or knitted fabrics. Potential for the application of DES exists in medical care e.g. for preventing bedsores for localising the pressure distribution in shoes. They can also support personal training by measuring the poise in clothes or training mats. In collision detection systems, DES improve industrial safety, e.g. of human-machine interfaces.

Caption: A shirt with DES for posture monitoring to prevent critical posture or load (photo: Fraunhofer ISC)

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