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Author Topic: 'Sewing' electronics using wire wrap wires instead of conductive thread  (Read 4053 times)
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Not sure if anyone has tried this, but for a recent school project I experimented with using wire wrap wires (or any 30AWG or thinner wires) for 'sewing' electronic components to fabric or clothes. Well, it's not exactly sewing, because it's more like weaving wires through the fabric, and soldering components onto the wires. Also, it doesn't really involve a sewing needle because the wire itself is good enough to penetrate through fabric. I like the solderability, because I am really not good at sewing. Also, these wires are available in many stores and are cheap. I've documented the process (with pictures) in this blog article: http://rayshobby.net/blog/?p=1128. If anyone has tried this, please feel free to share your experience.
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Not sure if anyone has tried this, but for a recent school project I experimented with using wire wrap wires (or any 30AWG or thinner wires) for 'sewing' electronic components to fabric or clothes. Well, it's not exactly sewing, because it's more like weaving wires through the fabric, and soldering components onto the wires. Also, it doesn't really involve a sewing needle because the wire itself is good enough to penetrate through fabric. I like the solderability, because I am really not good at sewing. Also, these wires are available in many stores and are cheap. I've documented the process (with pictures) in this blog article: http://rayshobby.net/blog/?p=1128. If anyone has tried this, please feel free to share your experience.

I've never tried it, but I'm sure it could work. The only thing I would be worried about is the fact that wire-wrap wire is solid core; eventually, the flexing of the wire may cause it to break (though I am not sure how conductive thread is made - whether it is solid or stranded in some manner).
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Conductive thread is either silver coated strands, or stainless steel coated strands.  In other words, it's stranded. smiley
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I just took some wire-wrap wire and wiggled it back and forwards like crazy for a couple of minutes with no obvious ill-effects.

Especially in the example shown on the page (where the wires aren't bending a huge amount) this could work quite well. smiley
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How well does the wire-wrap wire hold up in the wash?
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You want me to wash my wire?
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I'll have to check with my wife on that one. Do you want the normal cycle, or the wool one?
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You want me to wash my wire?

I was going to suggest starting with a rag or old shirt, thread a single wire through, tie up the wire ends as best as you can, and wash it.  But...

That seems like a bad idea.  If the wire gets loose it could get trapped in the drain.  Or damage a drain pump.  I think.  I wonder what the conductive thread vendors recommend; I'll investigate ...
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From Leah Buechley...

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washing

Your creation is washable. Remove the battery and wash the garment by hand with a gentle detergent.

Note: silver coated threads will corrode over time and their resistance will gradually increase with washing and wear. To limit the effects of corrosion, insulate and protect your traces with puffy fabric paint. See my make your own electronic sewing kit page for more information. You can also revive exposed corroded traces with silver polish. Try this on a non-visible area first to see what it does to your fabric!

From Lame Lifesavers (manufacturer)...

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Washing: Once you have sewn your conductive thread into clothing to create your circuit, do not worry, because Yes the thread can be washed. You may use hand or machine washing (hand washing and hang dry is best). You can wash on a warm setting, and try to use a liquid detergent to avoid any surface deposition from soaps. And NEVER use bleach. Do not get carried away with the washing however. The thread is a silver coating on a synthetic fibre, so of course, washing will degrade the integrity of the silver, over time.


While I cannot find anyone complaining about machine washing I also cannot find anyone who has actually done it.  Several folks have stated they plan to do some testing but I cannot find any follow-up.

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You want me to wash my wire?

I'm going to go with "no".   smiley
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I have hand washed some stuff.  I made a top for my daughter with a Lilypad and some LEDs attached.  Just took the battery out and hand washed the thing.  After careful wringing, we hung the thing in the bathroom and let it dry overnight.  Plugged the battery back in the next day and everything came back to life.  Done that a few times now.  The only thing I don't like is that after some time, the thread falls apart, it just unravels.  I've had to redo a few strands already.  Still, for a simple washable electronic project, not bad.  It still works.
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