Electrostatic discharge (ESD) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) protection products will boost in the next 5 to 10 years in order to overcome the vulnerability of electronic devices to static electricity and electromagnetic inference at high frequencies. As the semiconductor industry will increase protection for on-chip and in-fab applications and post-fab handling and preservation of micro-electronic products, the demand of ESD/EMC garmets is expected to attain a turnover of US $480 million by 2015. Presently, the ESD garments are realized as conductive composite textiles by combining conventional textile fibres with conductive ones and/or by surface treatment with hygroscopic agents to endow good conductive properties. The manufacturing technology is similar to the one used for standard clothing.
Within the present proposal new ESD garments concept and manufacturing technology are proposed, making use of a single structure (integral) knitting of core conductive fibres. The integral knitting will assure an intrinsic electrical continuity within the whole garment. The functionalization of the new structure will be realized: (1) at macrostructure level, the fibre’s continuity being ensured by the integral knitting technology, with high ESD effects, (2) at microstructural level by use of different conducting fillers structures. The research methodology for developing the final structure is encompassing specialised electromagnetic simulation of conductive fibers in predefined spatial architectures, ESD/EMC measurements, textile technology design and testing for integral knitting. In terms of economic benefits, the potential impact will be the developement of a versatile technology and also of a product with flexible tailored features for intersectorial markets, general EMC/ESD knowledge expanding, technology transfer plan for the involved industrial partners with an envisaged increase of employment (min. 10%) and turnover (min. 15%).