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STELLA "Klight" Dress with Stretchable Electronics

The "Klight" dress is designed by Mareike Michel, a fashion design student at the University of Applied Science in Berlin, Germany. What makes this demure LBD so special is the stretchable PCB. For those who don't know, a PCB stands for "printed circuit board" and they are the boards that hold and connect the main components of a computerized system like you find inside your cellphone, computer, and other electronic devices (see below). They are very hard and inflexible and usually difficult to integrate into fabric unless your looking for something with real rigidity. However, with a STELLA, we are looking at a possible future with washable and comfortable interactive fashion and interior design. 

A common PCB (Left) is found in most all electronic devices today. The Knight dress with the stretchable PCB (on the right) was developed in cooperation with scientists from Fraunhofer IZM and TU Berlin as part of the European research project STELLA (STretchable ELectronics for Large Area Applications).

Fraunhofer IZM Press Release:

"The dress features integrated diodes, an accelerometer and a microcontroller, which detect the wearer's movements and convert the dynamics into an LED-display pattern. The integrated LED display is made possible by the stretchable substrate, one of the most exciting developments in todays circuit board industry.

The manufacturing process for these stretchable circuit boards (SCB) was developed by scientists at Fraunhofer IZM and TU Berlin as part of the European research project STELLA (STretchable ELectronics for Large Area Applications). A flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foil proved to be the most suitable substrate material. Thanks to its excellent properties, including wear and tear resistance, TPU has already been tested and is widely used in the textile industry, for example, as a breathable membrane in rainwear.

To render the highly conductive but basically rigid copper wires flexible, the wires are structured into the substrate in tiny meander patterns. Depending on the design of the meander shapes and the intended applications, the researchers are able to achieve elasticities of up to 300 percent" 

You can continue reading the press release here.


Thank you!

Alison Lewis

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 22:04

Really enjoy your perspective on fashion, style and technology. Keep up the great work! Very fresh look at innovation.

Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 21:53

Polymath, thanks so much for sharing the link to your dress. Lets talk and we can blog about it a bit more in detail. My email is hello {at} iheartswitch {dot} com

Alison Lewis

Monday, February 15, 2010 - 12:44

Interesting. Looks like they had a really similar starting idea (accelerometer used to translate movement into a visual display using LEDs) as I did with the skirt I just finished last week - but mine changes colors based on the movement, instead of changing display patterns.

The flexible circuit board sounds like a great format for higher-volume wearable production!


Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 12:32