The ability to integrate electrical functionality into textile garments is becoming increasingly desired both on the battlefield and in the work environment. In order to accomplish this, the issue of compatibility of mechanical properties between dissimilar materials needs to be addressed. Textiles are typically selected for comfort while electrical materials are chosen for superior electrical properties with secondary consideration given to properties such as flexibility. As a result many attempts to integrate electrical functionality into textiles result in stiff, unwieldy garments that have difficulty gaining user acceptance.
Part of the electrotextile work done at Foster-Miller has focused on the integration of these dissimilar materials in a manner that does not degrade the wearability of the garment. Our work has included the development of textile cables that carry power and data using both electrical and optical media. In order to assess the wearability of these cables a method was needed of testing their stiffness. Several methods of measuring textile stiffness existed but did not address the many issues and material characteristics unique to conductive textiles.