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E-Textiles: a Lesson in Electro-Fashion Components

Everything you need to know about E-Textiles

 

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Conductive Thread

This is Kitronik's very own Electro-Fashion branded conductive thread and we think that it is among the best of conductive threads available. It is perfect for hand sewing and can be used on the bottom bobbin of a sewing machine (this will require the thread to be wound on to the smaller bottom bobbin first).




 

Our conductive thread is available in reels of 50 yards/45m, 2m, and 6m.

Our conductive thread sews like normal thread but conducts electricity like wire, allowing Electronics to be integrated into Textiles. This makes it ideal for use in a range of E-Textile applications.

Electrical Characteristics

The thread is nano platted with silver to make it conductive. The conductive thread has a low resistance of approximately 40ohms per metre. This allows LEDs to be powered over quite large distances. Resistance does not vary significantly from one length of thread to the next, so you should be able to use this thread without concern for "dead" sections.

Physical Characteristics

The conductive thread has a breaking strain of around 9.3 pounds (4.2 kilos). It comprises roughly 96 individual filaments, each coated with a micron-thick layer of natural silver. In construction, 16 of these filaments are wound together to form an initial twist; two of these twists are then twisted together, and finally three of these twists are combined to form the finished thread. The conductive thread is approximately 18 denier. It is heavier than a regular sewing thread, but not as heavy as an upholstery thread. It can be sewn on most domestic sewing machines using either a regular needle or the next size up. This thread does not fray.

Key features

  • No (or very low) fray.
  • Conductivity = approximately 40ohms per metre.
  • Count = 875 dTex.
  • Strength 3000 cN.
  • Elongation at break = 37%.
  • Twist = 240Z-380S.

LEDs for E-Textiles

 

Sewable PCB LEDs

Our Sewable PCB LEDs are available in white, red, blue, green and sakuru. These ultra slim, pre-mounted E-Textile LEDs from Kitronik run off a3V Coin Cell Battery (below) and are illuminated continuously when powered.





 

One 3V Coin Cell Battery can run up to 6 Sewable PCB LEDs. Please note that as more LEDs are introduced to a circuit, the dimmer they will become, which also drains the battery life at a faster rate. LEDs may also appear to be slightly dimmer if very long lengths of conductive thread are used between the components.

Sewable PCB LEDs have connections to which the conductive thread can be connected. These are clearly marked with '+' and '-' to indicate which is the positive and which is the negative connection.

The PCBs are double sided, making the conductive thread connection very reliable.

Features

  • Ultra Slim Sewable LEDs.
  • Double Sided PCBs for reliable connections.
  • Clearly marked '+' and '-' connections.

Sold in packs of 10 (supplied on a small panel, easily removed by snapping them out) or individually (ready to use).

Dimensions

  • Length: 15mm.
  • Width: 6.5mm.
  • Height: 2.7mm.

Sewable ZIP LEDs

Upgrade your E Textiles with addressable full colour Sewable ZIP LEDs. They can be sewn or used with crocodile clips & controlled by a micro:bit.

 

Features

  • A full colour addressable sewable ZIP LED.
  • It can be used with conductive thread or crocodile clips.
  • The can be controlled by a suitable processor such as micro:bit, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi.
  • It features four connection pads; +V, GND, Data in, and Data out.
  • The Kitronik ZIP LEDs are compatible with with any WS2812B driver code and can be coded with the Microsoft MakeCode Editor and MicroPython.

Dimensions

  • Length: 13mm.
  • Width: 14.8mm.
  • Max Height: 2.8mm.
  • PCB Thickness: 0.9mm.

Electro-Fashion Compatible LEDs

As an alternative, standard LEDs may also be used in E-Textiles projects. An easy way for you to do this is to use round nosed pliersto twist each leg of the LED into a loop, which can then be oversewn onto your fabric using conductive thread.

For those occasion were you need to just get on and without messing with the eyelets, our Electro-Fashion, Sewable 5mm LED Holder, pack of 10 is just what you need. Just slide the chosen LED through the holes in the middle of the board, matching the flat side of the LED to the outline on the PCB. Solder the LED into place, snip the excess length from the LED legs and you have just converted a through hole LED into an easy sewable LED board!

 

add_sewable_LEDs_to_Easter_Bunny_ears_800_04

Step 1: Use round nose pliers to twist the negative leg into a small loop and push this flat against the surface of the fabric.

add_sewable_LEDs_to_Easter_Bunny_ears_800_05

Step 2: Oversew the looped LED leg to the fabric using conductive thread.

How many LEDs can I use?

We have successfully ran up to five colour changing or flashing LEDs from a single (new) 3V Coin Cell Battery. You may be able to run more but it very much depends on the lengths of conductive thread and the type of LEDs that you choose to use.

Please note that when multiple colour changing or flashing LEDs are used, the LEDs will not cycle/flash in time with each other. As more LEDs are introduced to a circuit, the dimmer they will become, which also drains the battery life at a faster rate.

As the coin cell provides 3V, any LED with a supply or forward voltage of between 3V and 5V will generally be OK. To see the full range of Electro-Fashion compatible LEDs, click here.

Coin Cell Batteries and Holders

 

These are great value, high quality batteries that fit our Sewable Coin Cell Holder, the Switched Coin Cell Holder and the Latching Switch Coin Cell Holder.

For more information on how long coin cell batteries usually last, visit our FAQs page.

 

The Lithium CR1220 Coin Cell is slightly smaller in size, measuring at 12mm diameter, 2.0mm height, and has a capacity of 40mAh. This miniature battery fits our Miniature Coin Cell Holder.

 

 

Our Coin Cell Holders have been specially designed to have large connection points for the conductive thread. These are clearly marked to show the battery polarity.

Caution: Our Coin Cell Holders contain Nickel and should not be used in designs where it will be in prolonged contact with the skin.

E-Textiles Switches

LED(s) can be activated by the push of a button, a slide of a switch, a magnetic connection, a gentle tilt, or, even, as darkness is detected.

 

This Sewable Push Switch can be used to activate your E-Textiles project whilst it is pressed (the circuit is broken as soon as the switch is released).

Features:

  • Double Sided PCBs for reliable connections.
  • Clearly marked '+' and '-' connections.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 18mm.
  • Width: 8.5mm.
  • Height: 3mm.

For a tutorial of how to use the Sewable Push Switch, click here.

 

 

This Sewable Slide Switch allows LEDs to be turned on or off in your E-Textiles project. It has 2 connection points to which the conductive thread is connected.

Features:

  • Double Sided PCBs for reliable connections.
  • Clearly marked '+' and '-' connections.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 18mm.
  • Width: 8.5mm.
  • Height: 4mm.

For a tutorial of how to use the Sewable Slide Switch, click here.

 

This Sewable Tilt Switch can be used to activate your E-Textiles project when it is tilted. When horizontal, the switch is off. When tilted, the switch is on.

Features:

  • Double Sided PCBs for reliable connections.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 26mm.
  • Width: 6.5mm.
  • Height: 7mm.

This Light Sensor sewable board allows LEDs to be turned on automatically when it is dark. When turned on, the connected LEDs will be off in day light and on in the dark.

On one side of the board is the coin cell holder, which takes a CR2032 coin cell, as well as a small on/off slide switch. On the other side of the board is the light sensor. This design means that it is possible to cut a small hole in the front of the product for the light sensor to detect the light level, but the use will also be able to get to the back of the board to change the battery and turn the board off. When turned off, the any connected LEDs will be off. When turned on the connected LEDs will be off in day light but come on in the dark. There are two sets of pads that can be used to connect LED to the board.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 44mm.
  • Width: 20mm.
  • Height: 4.5mm.

A PDF tutorial explaining how to use this board can be downloaded by clicking here.

For an example of the Electro-Fashion Light Sensor in use, click here.

For a tutorial, click here.

For our full range of Electro-Fashion switches and sensors, please click here or see below.

These Sewable Magnetic Switches can be used to switch LEDs on when the magnet is placed near the switch (causing it to be activated). The magnet is included.

Features:

  • Double Sided PCBs for reliable connections.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 25mm.
  • Width: 6mm.
  • Height: 6mm.

For a tutorial of how to use the Magnetic Switch & Magnet, click here.

2721_large_electro_fashion_light_sensor

Electro-Fashion Light Sensor

Conductive Fabric

Conductive fabric can be used to make a soft switch. Only a small amount is required per switch, so these sheets go a long way. The materials below are conductive knit fabrics for use in E-Textiles. They are highly conductive with a low surface resistivity.

2716_large_conductive_fabric_ripstop

Conductive Fabric, Ripstop

Conductive Fabric, Ripstop, is similar in feel to a nylon ripstop material. It is highly conductive with a surface resistivity of < 1 ohm/sq.

Dimensions: 12 x 13" (304.8 x 330.2 mm).

Documents: Datasheet.

2717_large_conductive_fabric_stretch

Conductive Fabric, Stretch

Conductive Fabric, Stretch, is silver-plated nylon that is stretchy in one direction. It is highly conductive with a surface resistivity of < 1 ohm/sq. Medtex 180 Ag Nylon single directional stretch.

Dimensions: 12 x 13" (304.8 x 330.2 mm).

Documents: Datasheet.

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