Scientists at The University of Manchester have reported the development of a simple and cost-effective method to manufacture graphene-based wearable electronic textiles on an industrial scale. The new method could allow graphene e-textiles to be manufactured at commercial production rates of 150 meters per minute, the team said. “Our simple and cost-effective way of producing multi-functional graphene textiles could easily be scaled up for many real-life applications, such as sportswear, military gear, and medical clothing,” said the researchers.
The team reversed the previous process of coating textiles with graphene-based materials; Traditionally, the textiles are first coated with graphene oxide, which is then converted into its functional form of reduced graphene oxide. Instead, the researchers first reduced the graphene oxide in solution, and then coated the textiles with the reduced form.
By turning coating into the final step, it becomes possible to use a coating technique called padding, which is currently the most commonly used method of applying functional finishes to textiles in the textile industry. The researchers demonstrated that e-textiles made by a laboratory-scale pad-dry unit exhibited excellent electrical and mechanical characteristics.