Get A Charge Out Of Sewing: Conductive Threads Amp Up Fabric Possibilities

Sewing is being energized with the introduction of new specialty threads that bring amazing new possibilities to clothing and fabrics. Conductive thread, or thread that carries an electrical charge, is being used to create special effects, medical tools, music and wi-fi capability in sewn garments and the research lab. 

The technology is in its early phases, but here are three breakthroughs achieved with conductive thread:

1. Researchers make fabric change color

There are researchers and scientists all over the globe studying how to make everything in the world touch-sensitive and interactive, including clothing. In a first step to that end, they've discovered that small electrical charges in conductive thread can change the color of the threads.

Right now the technology allows hues to change from bright colors to pastel tones and back again, and the transformation is gradual rather than instantly noticeable. But eventually you'll be able to have alternating logos and patterns on your clothes, or you can advertise your mental status with a shirt that works like a mood ring.

2. Thread can become a wi-fi hotspot or medical diagnostic tool

Researchers at Ohio State University have figured out how to stitch together circuitry using metallic threads to create what they call functional textiles. When embroidered in the correct patterns the stitching can transmit wi-fi signals to connect your smartphone or send data to your fitness tracking apps.

Medical science is taking the concept and developing ways to integrate conductive threads into wound stitches to track healing and infections. By dipping thread in chemical and physical sensing compounds, they can monitor things like wound pressure, temperature and pH. The technology can be incorporated into prosthetic implants and organ transplants to have instant data on how well the body is adapting and hopefully reduce rejection issues.

3. Play a song on your T-shirt

Forget air guitar. The newest thing is T-shirt guitar -- and bass and drums, too. Using conductive-paint graphics and conductive thread, developers have made a set of three kids T-shirts that can each mimic the sounds of guitar, drums or bass when the graphics are touched or tapped.

The musical notes or rhythms are then broadcast with a smart device like a tablet or phone. Earphones are an option in the beginning when the band's just getting started. Soon you may be able to have your favorite song blasting from your clothes or have a recording of your cat's meow to go along with her portrait on your T-shirt.

Scientists and researchers will no doubt develop all sorts of fun and innovative uses for conductive fabrics, and it's certain that home sewers will think up some interesting ideas for the technology as well. To learn more, contact a company like Singer Factory Distributor Inc