Nano Dimension, manufacturer of the Dragonfly 2020 3D printer for PCBs, has conducted a successful test for 3D printing of conductive traces onto a treated fabric.
Being able to 3D print conductors on fabric opens up new opportunities for creating smart functional fabrics without limitations resulting from motion, folding and wearing. Currently the functional textile industry is working on a method on how to produce smart textiles by combing the production process for electronics and textiles. Nano Dimension believes its technology has the potential to resolve the challenge.
Collaborating with a leading European functional textiles company, Nano Dimension used its proprietary AgCite Silver Nanoparticle conductive ink on its DragonFly 2020 3D printer. The printing process was adjusted in order to be able to print electronics and sensors as an integral part of the fabric. Conductors printed in several patterns were then tested on their performance and functionality, including conductivity, elasticity, rubbing and more. Results showed that the 3D printed silver conductors had enough elasticity to match the properties of the fabric.
According to figures released by the company, the smart textile market is estimated to be worth $ 800 million and is expected to reach $ 4.72 billion by 2020, growing a a CAGR of around 34%. Smart textiles could find use in the military, industrial and medical sectors, with products such as smart bandages, virtual reality gloves, wearables with sensor and heat properties, safety equipment for the defence industry, unique sportswear that manages body temperature, medical equipment as well as automotive, aviation and aerospace accessories among others.