Smart Silicones – Thinner than a Human Hair


Solid and Liquid – SiliconesTextiles (icon)Textiles (icon)

Leggings with integrated silicone sensors caused a minor sensation at the K 2016 international plastics trade show in Düsseldorf. These high-tech tights can measure body movements and visualize them on a smartphone or PC. Currently, only one company can supply the precision silicone films for this application in the high quality required: WACKER. These films are produced in cleanroom conditions in Burghausen. They are extremely elastic and ultrathin, sometimes even thinner than a human hair.

LEAP Technology of Denmark – which has partnered WACKER to develop wearables – coats the films with conductive electrodes, enabling the sensors to measure deformations precisely. Demand for such technologies is huge. Experts expect the market for pressure sensors and stretch sensors to grow by 40 percent over the next ten years.

Facts and Figures

Experts expect the market for stretch sensors to grow by 40 percent over the next ten years.

Functional Clothing

Equipping textiles with smart technology is a future trend in the functional clothing sector. Yet, even without sensors, these fabrics still have to be multi-talented. They are expected to be water-repellent and light as a feather as well as breathable, hard-wearing and soft. That’s not a problem for silicones. Specialty silicone fluids ensure that sportswear feels soft and keeps out moisture, yet absorbs sweat. Silicone additives create brilliant colors and stop fabric from creasing. Work clothing is often coated with flame-retardant silicones, which can be a life-saving feature for firefighters.

WACKER developed the first silicone products for the textiles and leather sectors 50 years ago. Today, silicones are used at every manufacturing stage, ranging from fiber production to textile finishing. Innovative precision silicone films from WACKER now make textiles not only soft, water-repellent and breathable, but also smart.

Functional textiles for sport and leisure are very popular (photo)
Functional textiles for sport and leisure are very popular.
Silicones cause water to roll off in beads (photo)
Silicones cause water to roll off in beads. The textile can still breathe.
Absorbent yet fluffy textiles – both are possible with specialty silicones (photo)
Absorbent yet fluffy textiles – both are possible with specialty silicones.