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Covestro at K 2016: To Show Luminous Clothing with TPU Film Comprising LED

Published on 2016-08-10. Author : SpecialChem

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.

TPU Film Comprising LED for Luminous Clothes

Covestro Films Pave the Way for Freely Formable Electronic Systems

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.

Intelligent Technology

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.

The smart circuits meet a whole range of other customer needs and are thus ideal for applications in a variety of industries. Compared to conventional electronic components, they offer greater design freedom and reliability while enabling more sustainable products due to the reduced use of materials.

From Functional Underwear to Automotive Interiors

Besides fashion items such as the luminous dress, 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.

Intelligent Technology

Stretchable circuit board (SCB) technology for manufacturing stretchable electronic circuits was developed earlier as part of the European STELLA project. This was led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) and the Technical University of Berlin. Coated TPU films can be stretched repeatedly up to 60 percent, and on a one-time basis by as much as 300 percent.

About Covestro

With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and as of the end of 2015 employed approximately 15,800 people (full-time equivalents).

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Source: Covestro
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