Covestro (Hall 6, Stand A 75) will showcase an item of luminous clothing at the K 2016 plastics trade fair. LED make it truly stand out, but can also perform key functions such as protecting pedestrians and cyclists against accidents. What makes it special is that the light-emitting diodes are not positioned on a panel or strip, but on a piece of soft fabric. At the center of the development is an electronic system that is responsive to movements without losing its functionality. The system comprises a flexible and formable film made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from Covestro. The TPU is the substrate for the printed copper circuits, which are arranged in a meandering pattern and can thus also be bent and stretched.
Smart circuits are manufactured using an efficient, multi-stage process.
- Firstly, copper films are laminated onto the polyurethane films.
- Secondly, printed circuits are produced in a subsequent structuring operation featuring highly effective adhesion.
- Thirdly, coated films are shaped as required using conventional thermoforming.
“The films are resistant to standard etching and imaging processes,” said Covestro film expert Wolfgang Stenbeck. “Formable electronic systems can also be directly laminated onto textiles, as in the case of the luminous dress.”
The production technology was developed as part of various projects funded by the EU Commission, among them STELLA and TERASEL. The objective is to produce 2.5-dimensional electronic circuits cost-effectively using conventional forming processes. The freely formed components can be integrated seamlessly into energy-efficient electronic components. They can be processed using standard PCB industry equipment and are also suitable for applications with higher currents or voltages.
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