Kentucky Patent of the Month – April 2021

Certain clothing, such as diapers, need moisture sensing capabilities. One method is to use conductive fibers which are a combination of electric wires and textiles. These conductive fabrics are quite versatile with uses in thermal heating, stun gun vests, metal mesh and so on. Unfortunately, the methods for incorporating these conductive threads or fibers is rarely compatible with high-volume manufacturing. BioLink Systems, LLC. has developed a method of applying conductive ink in cost effective and scalable ways.

Electrodes are placed strategically throughout the garment. While the garment is worn, the electrical properties of the electrodes are monitored to determine if they come in contact with moisture. The method uses a flexographic printer and dryer. Flexographic printers are incredibly fast and low-cost. They have a built-in drying time at the backend of printing, allowing the conductive ink to fully dry and then be rolled up without sticking to other layers. Conductive ink created from metals, carbon or graphite compounds that conduct electricity in a wetted condition. The flexographic printer prints electrodes onto poly film. This method is easily incorporated into existing garment manufacturing processes with the addition of pre-printed poly film substrates. The poly film substrate can then be fed into the garment manufacturing machine to be incorporated as needed. In the case of a diaper, it would be the layer below the absorbent mass, so that fluid is sensed when the diaper has been soiled. An attached module is connected through a communication circuit to the electrodes to signal when the diaper is wet – through lights or an alarm. While their target moisture is from urine of feces, the garments will respond to other fluids as well.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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