Conductive thread is a type of thread that performs as a normal thread, but can be used to connect electronic components in a garment without the use of stiff circuitry or heavy battery packs. The production usually involves a fiber such as cotton or polyester bound tightly with an alloy such as silver, copper, tin, or nickel. There are many varying kinds of conductive threads that change in ply, strength, resistance, materials, and – of course – appearance.
The use of conductive thread is becoming more and more prominent in the use of wearable technology. With wearable devices moving towards invisibility, the concept of your smart wearable acting as a “second skin” via direct clothing integration is on the rise. Conductive threads’ integration into smart textiles have innumerable uses, including lacing the fabric with LED lights or creating a system of circuitry that runs between pressure sensors. The abilities of conductive threads have spanned from the fashion worlds to the functional world alike.
This development also opens a whole new door in the medical garment industry; the use of conductive fabrics directly in smart medical garments allows for maximum patient comfort and customization, as well as for highly accurate vitals monitoring due to max body coverage. The use of conductive thread combined with sensor technology in a medical vest could provide thorough and deeper insight into the vitals of the patient, and could allow for remote treatment from a medical specialist while the patient and doctor are not physically together. Our experience with the use of conductive thread in our medical wearable garments is positive. This thread provides an exponentially more comfortable and convenient fit for the device user, and makes for easier development and production when our prototyping and sewing teams don’t have to worry about how heavier (and likely, more delicate) technology will be protected and securely integrated into the design.
Conductive threads mass utilization is on the horizon as more and more conductive thread production houses begin to create threads with alternative allows, higher plys, or different constructions altogether. One thing is certain – the use of conductive thread is on the cusp of mass integration in wearable devices, both medical and recreational.