Leverkusen, Germany — Covestro is using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to combine light-emitting diodes (LED) with soft wearable fabric.
Designed to for applications such as making pedestrians and cyclists more visible, the technology comprises an electronic system that is responsive to movements without losing its functionality, the firm said.
According to the company, the TPU forms a substrate for printed copper circuits, which are “arranged in a meandering pattern and can thus also be bent and stretched.”
The multi-stage production process includes the lamination of copper films onto polyurethane films.
Covestro product & application development manager Wolfgang Stenbeck said: “The films are resistant to standard etching and imaging processes.
“Formable electronic systems can also be directly laminated onto textiles, as in the case of the luminous dress.”
According to Covestro, aside from fashion, freely formable electronic systems are already in use in underwear, where they monitor heart rate and breathing. They assist patients with therapy and help athletes monitor their training.