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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Circuit Maker

Sauquoit Industries' new CircuiteX™ technology enables etching of circuits on fabrics that replace conventional printed or flex boards in numerous electronics applications.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Associate Editor

H aving established themselves as an important niche within the technical textiles sector, electronic textiles — or e-textiles — represent an array of technologies and applications designed to enhance the lives of those who use them and provide convenient, flexible, lightweight alternatives to traditional electronic products made with metal wires. Also often referred to as “ smart” or “interactive” textiles, they typically include stitched, woven, knitted, embroidered or plated conductive materials. Sauquoit Industries LLC, Scranton, Pa., now has added a fabric etching technology to the manufacturing choices available.

Sauquoit, a subsidiary of Scranton-based Noble Biomaterials Inc., manufactures silver metalized yarns, staple, chopped fiber and fabrics under the X-Static® brand for such applications as shielding, grounding, antistatic, antimicrobial, antiodor, and filtration, as well as thermal regulation and comfort in apparel.

CircuiteX™ Fabric Circuit©, Sauquoit’s newest product line, uses the company’s newly developed technology for etching electronic information-relaying circuits onto fabrics. The company is introducing the fabrics for any application in which circuit boards might be used including military, medical and consumer electronics products, and smart textiles. The company says the fabrics offer a flexible, lightweight, economical and durable alternative to traditional printed circuit boards and wiring boards, and flexible circuit boards currently used in such products.

qfompic_Copy

After circuits are etched on the CircuiteX™ fabric,
other electronic components are added to the fabric using cold soldering.

According to Tony Sosnowski, manager, product development, the CircuiteX fabric, a silver metalized fabric with a fine, tightly woven nylon base, offers the highest level of electrical conductivity. The silver, which is 99.9-percent pure, permeates the fabric structure to cover all surfaces of the yarn. A resist is applied to keep the silver in place along the circuit path. Where there is no resist, the silver is dissolved by the etching chemical. Other electronic components are then added to the fabric, as shown in the photograph. Sosnowski said the technology exists as well to create these components on the fabric as part of the circuit system.

“We have engineered the product so we could follow existing fabrication methods for circuit boards, and we use a flexible circuit etching process — it’s not much of a sidetrack from the existing technology,” Sosnowski said. “We’re not only etching the circuit, but we also can use existing cold solder dispensing methods, pick and place, and conformal coatings.”

The fabrics, which also may be knitted and also may contain spandex, can be processed on traditional textile machinery. Sosnowski mentioned wearable antennas, and heating and body-monitoring applications as possible areas of use.


For more information about CircuiteX™, contact Tony Sosnowski, (800) 858-5552, tsosnowski@x-static.com .

June 5, 2006




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