Washability of E-Textiles - What You Should Know

This article is written by Sayak Nandi. 

Recently, I had the privilege of attending an International Conference “E-Textile 2020”, arranged by the E-textile network. A question which was very commonly asked was related to the washability of e-textiles. In this article, I have provided an insight to the washability of e-textile. 

Image source: innovationintextiles.com

E-textile is a very rapidly expanding sector with a lot of potential in future. However, one of the major aspects is the washability of these products. When we consider an e-textile item, it is electronic integrated in textile. So, when we talk about washability of such a product, the problem is the electronic part is not washable; however the textile part is conventionally washable.

When we check the washability of a textile material, we check how much the particular value addition can withstand the washing. For instances -
  1. Wash fastness for dye is the evaluation of how fast the dye is to washing; where main value addition is the colouration which enhances the aesthetic of the textile
  2. While evaluating the anti-microbial efficacy the evaluation is based on how many washing cycles the antimicrobial effect lasts on the textile; where main value addition is the antimicrobial effect.

So, similarly the washability and wash fastness of any e-textile should be evaluating how the electrical properties like conductivity, resistivity and the application is affected by the washing of the e-textile material.

Here as well the problem faced is the electronic part being a non-washable element.

Due to all these facts it is highly necessary to have a separate standard to evaluate the washability of an e-textile considering all these above factors.

There had been studies and innovations present in the literature that talks about washability and enhancing the washability of e-textiles. Some literature talks about the usage of barriers to prevent the water from touching the electronic components. Even certain covers have been used for covering the e-textile materials. Here rather than washing of the inner e-textile material, the cover is washed and reused. There had been few other innovations as well, however in spite of all these innovations, proper washing standards for e-textile is the need of the hour for this sector.

Related: Latest developments in smart garments

  • Tao, X. et, al. 2017. How to make reliable, washable, and wearable textronic devices. Sensors (MDPI), 17(673). DOI: 10.3390/s17040673 
  • Kim, S.J. et al. 2019. A New Architecture for Fibrous Organic Transistors Based on a Double Stranded Assembly of Electrode Microfibers for Electronic Textile Applications. Advanced Materials, 31(23). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201900564

About the author: Sayak Nandi is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Textile Technology from GCETTS. His area of interest includes Technical textile, Weaving, Nonwovens, and sustainability in Textiles.

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