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tretchable and W
ashable Electronics for Embedding in Textiles


Facts & Figures

SWEET is an Belgian Science Policy (Federal Government) funded project in the frame of the "Programme for Stimulation of Knowledge Transfer in Strategically important domains" contract number P2/00/08). Some key figures :

  • Starting date : March 1, 2007

  • Finishing date : February 28, 2010

  • Duration : 3 years

  • Total budget : 675 kEuro

  • 9 person-years of effort to be spent on the project

1. Rationale

In the current era of “ambient intelligence” the citizen carries along more and more electronic systems during all kinds of activities at all kinds of places. Textile forms a very suitable platform to compile all these electronic systems because textile is very versatile in construction and usage, and offers a platform for introduction of innovative technology, which is widely accepted by potential users.

However at this moment a massive breakthrough of smart textile products on the market is not seen. An important reason for this fact is that currently there is no satisfactory integration technology for relatively complex electronic functions into textiles like e.g. clothing available. In most of the cases standard electronic devices in rigid packages like portable phones, mp3 players, etc. are integrated by putting them in pockets, buttons etc. This means that (1) the device cannot deform (e.g. stretch) in the same way textile does and (2) the device must be taken out of the garment during cleaning of the textile. Eliminating these drawbacks and developing technologies which make the embedded electronics almost non-noticeable to the user would certainly boost the use of smart textile products. 

2. General project goal

It is precisely the intention of the SWEET project (Stretchable and Washable Electronics for Embedding in Textiles) to perform work in the direction of highly integrated electronics in textile. SWEET aims at the development of a technology platform for stretchable and washable electronic circuits and for embedding technologies of these circuits in textiles.

3. Starting point

The starting point for the developments is an embryonic technology for stretchable electronic circuits for medical (implantable) applications which is currently under development at one of the partners in the frame of the Flemish Community sponsored SBO-project “BioFlex”. A stretchable electronic circuit is considered as a number of rigid or flexible component islands which are connected by elastic interconnections (see figure below, top left). Stretchable interconnections are achieved by embedding meander shaped plated metal wires in an elastic base material (see figure below, down left). Stretchabilities of 50% and more using this technology have been obtained and also the possibility to embed components has been demonstrated (see figure below, right).  However a lot of work is to be done to further develop this technology and adapt it for embedding in textile. To reach this goal a 3-year workplan has been set up. 





4. Workplan

The following logical sequence of activities is foreseen in the workplan :

  • Technology developments are driven by 2 demonstrators which are selected and specified at the beginning of the project, with the advice of the follow-up committee and with a clear goal for valorisation.

  • Based on the demonstrator specifications, a number of technology building blocks are developed in parallel :

  • Technology for stretchable electronic circuits, suitable for textile embedding, including a novel approach of shunting the embedded meander shaped wires with highly stretchable electro-active conductive polymers. The latter materials will be developed in the frame of SWEET. Moreover also electro-active polymer sensor materials will be developed and implemented in sensor devices.

  • Technology for surface modification and characterisation of elastic polymer base materials and metals to improve the polymer/polymer and polymer/metal adhesion.

  • Technology for encapsulating the electronic substrate and for bonding the electronic substrate to the textile, including washability and typical textile handling tests.

  • Technology for connection of the stretchable circuits with textronics elements like e.g. conducting fibres.

  • Based on technology developments and demonstrators specifications, the demonstrators are designed, produced and tested. The first demonstrator is a universal building block without textronics components or polymer sensors, the second one is a fully functional user defined demonstrator, using as much as possible the developed technologies.

 5.The consortium

The project is executed by a very well balanced consortium bringing together the various necessary competences :

  • UGent/ELIS/TFCG (Prof. Jan Vanfleteren) : is an electronic substrate and assembly process technology provider and will develop technology for stretchable electronic circuits.

  • KULeuven/ESAT/MICAS (Prof. Bob Puers) is specialized in electronic system design and will will be responsible for the design and testing of the demonstrators.

  • Centexbel (Ir. Jean Léonard, Marc Croes and Dimitri Janssen) is a Collective Research Centre on textile and will be responsible for development of the technology for integration of the stretchable electronic circuits in textiles.

  •  UCLouvain/MAPR/PCPM (Prof. Arnaud Delcorte and Prof. Patrick Bertrand) is a polymer materials specialist and will be responsible for the development of new electro-active polymers and for surface modification and characterization activities.


For more information, contact the project coordinator :

Prof. Dr. ir. Jan Vanfleteren, IMEC/INTEC/TFCG
Technologiepark 914-A,  B-9052 GENT-ZWIJNAARDE, Belgium
Tel : +32-9-264.53.60
Fax : +32-9-264.53.72
e-mail :
web page :


Page created by Jan Vanfleteren. Latest update: 14/5/2014