Sponsor: Velcro USA,Inc
Team Members: Sara Abushakra, Molly Campbell, Reed Cannon, Jackson Young
This project’s goal is to produce a conductive hook and loop using innovative technology and prove its effectiveness in a final product, such as a smart knee brace. Velcro USA Inc. is motivated to expand its portfolio by offering products beyond just fastening devices. Therefore, the design team has developed the idea of using a conductive hook and loop to bridge the gap between their current products and the world of smart products.
The design team began this process by first benchmarking conductive hooks and loops that were already on the market, looking for key measurables such as peel and shear strength, end to end resistance, sheet resistance, and through resistance to compare their eventual prototype to. The next step for the team was to decide how they wanted to pursue creating their own conductive hook and loop. After primarily researching conductive inks, paints, and pastes, the team ultimately decided that conductive inks were the best choice due to their higher conductivity than the other two options. The team also needed to decide on what wearable application they were interested in pursuing, and began ideating on applications such as smart masks, smart masks, smart sportswear, and smart knee braces. With guidance from their sponsor, Velcro USA Inc., the team ultimately decided to pursue the creation of a smart knee braces with the integration of a conductive hook and loop. From the team’s research on conductive inks, they wanted to try to coat hook and loop samples with two inks: Liquid-X and Oreltech, because they are nanoparticle free, had good conductivity, and good adhesion to different materials. The team started with the Liquid-X ink, which involved first pretreating their polypropylene hook substrate with UVO, then both spray coating and dip coating the substrate, and then curing the substrate in the oven. The first prototypes made by this process did not come up with good results- having high resistance and very low uniformity in the coating. The team then decided to change their pretreatment method to plasma cleaning instead of UVO, and try both the Liquid-X and Oreltech inks. The plasma cleaning proved to be much more effective, providing a much more uniform coating and low resistance with the Liquid-X ink. The Oreltech ink was not as effective because the team did not have the proper equipment to effectively cure the ink. Right now the team is still making prototypes, primarily using a plasma pretreatment and using the Liquid-X ink.