Nottingham Trent University shares in £20 million to manufacture fibre of the future

Nottingham Trent University is to share in £20m of funding to allow it to begin manufacturing "fibre electronics".

Nottingham Trent University is to share in £20m of funding to allow it to begin manufacturing fibre electronics.

Researchers from the University's Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG) will work with Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton on the project, which has received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop novel manufacturing methods for wearable technology. It is one of 10 projects to receive a slice of the £20million funding pot and £2.8million has been awarded overall to both universities, with the ATRG at Nottingham Trent University receiving around £1.2m.

The project will further ATRG's work on embedding electronics, such as LEDs, sensors and micro-controllers directly into yarns which can then be made into any number of products, from clothes to car seats.

The funds will allow the group to improve its product by making the yarns even finer, allowing production of things such as shirts with built in, yet invisible, sensors, micro-controllers and communication devices.

The funding for the four-year project, which starts in March 2015, will also enable Nottingham Trent University to develop the machinery it needs to begin a medium-scale manufacturing unit for the fibre electronics.

I believe that fibre electronics will initiate a second industrial revolution in textiles.

Professor Tilak Dias

Professor Tilak Dias, who heads up the ATRG at Nottingham Trent University, said: "I believe that fibre electronics will initiate a second industrial revolution in textiles.

"We are confident we have developed the platform technology for future electronic textiles and this project will build on the results gained to date by ourselves and ECS in order to revolutionise the way that smart and interactive textiles are produced. The end result will offer a greater level of functionality that is far beyond the state of the art."

Currently, the group works with electronic components in the form of packaged dies. However, the group now wants to work with a stripped-down bare die which would allow it to make yarns which are 0.2mm in diameter rather than the current 0.9mm it can produce. It will also mean more complex circuits can be made which will improve the variety of functions the fibres can perform.

A range of partners have identified the huge potential of the work and are supporting the work in kind to the value of a further £430,000. These include Stretchline, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Speedo, BSN Medical, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, International Automotive Components, Plessey Semiconductors, Urgo Ltd, the Centre for Process Innovation and MediCity.

These partners are already interested in potential applications for the yarn, for health, performance and commercial purposes.

Professor Steve Beeby from the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Group within Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, said: "This presents a fantastic opportunity to further the developments we have made towards the practical integration of electronics and sensing functionality in textiles. Nottingham Trent University brings highly complementary expertise in yarn and textile manufacture to the project and, with the assistance of our industrial partners, we hope to achieve some real impact from this research."

Welcoming the announcement Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said: "Working with academia and industry to support game-changing manufacturing projects like these is at the heart of the Government's industrial strategy. By supporting the jump from the manufacturing lab to the market place, we are driving innovation, creating valuable new jobs and delivering economic growth that will secure the UK's global leadership for decades to come."

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Kirsty Green, Press and Public Affairs Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8799, or via email.

    Full details of the EPSRC grant are available via the organisation's website.

Nottingham Trent University shares in £20 million to manufacture fibre of the future

Published on 7 January 2015
  • Category: Research; School of Art & Design

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