Advantages of e-textiles | Disadvantages of electronic textiles

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of e-textiles (electronic textiles). It mentions benefits or advantages of e-textiles and limitations or drawbacks or disadvantages of e-textiles.

What is e-textiles ?

Textile materials are widely used as fabrics for clothing purpose due to their light weight and flexibility. Fabrics with digital components and electronics embedded in them are called smart fabrics or smart textiles or e-textiles (i.e. electronic textiles). The smart textiles are simple computing systems which houses five functionalities viz. sensors, actuators, data processing, storage and data communication (as shown in the figure).

Following techniques are used to embed hardware electronic components or parts to the fabric.
Fabric PCB designs to attach electronics with fabric substrate.
LED sequins can be stitched with fabric using conductive thread.
Pluggable components and microcontrollers can be stitched like buttons.

Smart textiles can be classified into following three types.
Passive smart textile : These materials can only sense environment conditions. These are sensors.
Active smart textile : These materials can sense and react to environment conditions. These are sensors and actuators.
Ultra smart textile : These materials can sense, react and adapt themselves to environment.


Over the years, various types of materials have been developed to address the need of smart textiles which include metal fibers, conductive inks, plastic optical fibers, nano particles, organic semiconductors, SM polymers, chromic materials and so on.

E-textiles can be used for numerous applications such as temperature sensitive fabrics, fashion and entertainment clothes, health monitoring fabrics, emergency fabrics, military, sportswear, transport and automotive etc.

Advantages of e-textiles

Following are the benefits or advantages of e-textiles:
➨Like normal fabrics, they provide comfort, durability and resistant to regular textile maintenance processes.
➨They allow incorporation of latest technological elements in everyday clothes or textiles.
➨They are flexible and invisible to others.
➨No wires are used to snag the environment.
➨Thermal resistant and electrical resistant
➨They have large surface area for sensing.
➨Cheap manufacturing makes it more affordable for both consumer electronics and military applications.

Disadvantages of e-textiles

Following are the limitations or drawbacks or disadvantages of e-textiles:
➨The existing technology is not completely waterproof. Hence they can not be worn continually under rainy environment.
➨Smart fabrics used in medical applications require calibration as per government requirements.
➨They are yet to be commecialized and yet to be developed for children.
➨Due to durability of the materials, they get implicated by harsh environmental conditions.
➨Not as flexible as normal textile clothing
➨Limited reliability compare to textile clothes
➨They have specific range of applications
➨They have limited processing and storage capability

Different Types of sensors and Transducers

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