Wei, Yang, Torah, R., Yang, Kai, Beeby, S.P. and Tudor, John
Screen printing of a capacitive cantilever-based motion sensor on fabric using a novel sacrificial layer process for smart fabric applications
Measurement Science and Technology, 24, (7), . (doi:10.1088/0957-0233/24/7/075104).
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Free-standing cantilevers have been fabricated by screen printing sacrificial and structural layers onto a standard polyester cotton fabric. By printing additional conductive layers, a complete capacitive motion sensor on fabric using only screen printing has been fabricated. This type of free-standing structure cannot currently be fabricated using conventional fabric manufacturing processes. In addition, compared to conventional smart fabric fabrication processes (e.g. weaving and knitting), screen printing offers the advantages of geometric design flexibility and the ability to simultaneously print multiple devices of the same or different designs. Furthermore, a range of active inks exists from the printed electronics industry which can potentially be applied to create many types of smart fabric. Four cantilevers with different lengths have been printed on fabric using a five-layer structure with a sacrificial material underneath the cantilever. The sacrificial layer is subsequently removed at 160 °C for 30 min to achieve a freestanding cantilever above the fabric. Two silver electrodes, one on top of the cantilever and the other on top of the fabric, are used to capacitively detect the movement of the cantilever. In this way, an entirely printed motion sensor is produced on a standard fabric. The motion sensor was initially tested on an electromechanical shaker rig at a low frequency range to examine the linearity and the sensitivity of each design. Then, these sensors were individually attached to a moving human forearm to evaluate more representative results. A commercial accelerometer (Microstrain G-link) was mounted alongside for comparison. The printed sensors have a similar motion response to the commercial accelerometer, demonstrating the potential of a printed smart fabric motion sensor for use in intelligent clothing applications.
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