Electrically highly conductive tracks

Laser sintering of digitally printed metal dispersions

The development of textile products with integrated electronics offers a broad field of activity for SMEs. With new functions and possible applications, smart textiles offer promising development and sales prospects for the textile industry. The electrical connection of electronic components is still largely realized by means of elaborately integrated, metallized fibers or microcables, since the production of printed, electrically conductive structures on textiles has still not been satisfactorily solved. Until now, multiple printing with extremely expensive silver inks and subsequent thermal sintering at high temperatures has been necessary.

As part of a joint project funded by the state of BW, a new process for the printing-based production of highly conductive structures for smart textiles is now being developed by the project partners dp-solutions, GSB-Wahl, ilm Ulm and DITF Denkendorf. For this purpose, digital printing is combined with laser sintering and inks based on inexpensive metals are developed using easily pyrolizable stabilizers. This, together with the development and elaboration of suitable application and sintering parameters, as well as specifically adapted pre-treatment and post-treatment of the fabric, will make it possible for the first time to produce particularly low-resistance, electrically conductive structures by digital printing and to use them for the production of smart textiles.

The innovation of the project can be seen in the novel combination of digital printing and laser treatment and the development of easily pyrolizable inks, which makes it possible for the first time to use the digital printing process economically for the production of smart textiles. As a result, flexible and highly conductive thin metal layers are realized, which can be used as low-resistance conductor paths and for electrical contacting.

SEM image of a printed and laser-treated metal dispersion


    Dr. rer. nat. Frank Hermanutz

    Head of Competence Center Biopolymer Materials

    T +49 (0)711 93 40-140