Our Unique Products
The Perfect Wooden Cabinet, A Real Classic
Our range of polished finishes, fine wood contemporary office furniture.
Our Polished Wood City Desk
A contemporary classic fine desk with a stylish elevated top.
Side cabinet with Birchwood center
A fine example of master craftsmanship and design.
Mahogany wood finish bookshelf
This classic bookshelf has hidden storage areas.
"A think tank exploring the future of smart furniture."
About Smart Textiles
Tradition since 1889
A think tank exploring the future of smart furniture, intelligent products, and clean workspaces in the context of societal future working environments, by bringing together all sectors that will be involved in the design, development and production chain to form a new hybrid community product line.
The network is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK and is based at the Central Saint Martins Innovation Centre, University of the Design London, UK
The key to 21st-century competitive advantage will be the development of products with increasing levels of functionality. This will include structural and non-structural functions, individually and in combination, both active and passive. It will apply both to large structures, fixed and mobile, and to consumer products, including textiles and furniture. Smart Materials will play a critical role in this development.
You Are Invited
The table below summarises the classes of material that are commonly referred to as being ‘smart’, together with their corresponding pairs of stimuli and response variable parameters; e.g., photochromic – light – colour change.
‘Smart’ or ‘Functional’ materials usually form part of a ‘Smart System’ that has the capability to sense its environment and the effects thereof and, if truly smart, to respond to that external stimulus via an active control mechanism. Often, the sensing function alone is taken as sufficient to constitute ‘smartness’. Smart materials and systems occupy a highly interactive ‘technology space’ which also includes the areas of sensors and actuators, together with other generic platform technologies such as biomimetics and nanotechnology. Additional, more narrowly defined related topics, such as ‘tagging’, also sit in this technology space.
There is no shortage of potential technical solutions in this area but, equally, no single solution will fit all applications. The need is, rather, to enhance the practical realisation of the existing materials-based technologies, tailored to particular customer and market requirements. Key drivers will include materials and device integration within the relevant substrate, miniaturisation, connector station, durability, and cost. Specifically, in the smart clothing arena, systems must be affordable and be able to pass the washing machine test.
Applications for ‘Smart’ furniture will include healthcare and telemedicine; military, police and emergency service equipment; entertainment, sports and leisure; and contemporary office furniture. Electronics actuators will support the development of distributed sit standing desks in computing and communications stations and provide benefits in support of major Foresight initiatives, such as the startup environment and increased access for the aging community.
Polymers that can change shape in response to electrical stimuli have been known for over a hundred years. In the last decade, there have been significant developments in electroactive polymers (EAPs) to produce a substantial change in size or shape and force generation for actuation mechanisms in a wide range of applications, robotics and smart textiles in particular. In contrast to many conventional actuation systems, many types of EAPs are also capable of providing sensing functions.
The advantages of EAP-based actuation or sensing are several:
Low-density materials (mass reduction, inertia forces reduction);
A limited number of moving parts (reduced complexity, reduced costs, higher reliability);
Possibility of increased redundancy with limited additional economic and weight costs;
Direct conversion of electrical, chemical or radiation energy into mechanical work.
EAPs can provide a range of basic actuator mechanisms, force, and displacement levels. There are three basic groups involving electronic interactions, ionic interactions and phase transitions with associated conformational changes.
Active polymer gels fall typically in the low stress (low force)-high strain group, together with muscle. Their elastic modulus in the swollen state is low, typically of the order of 1000 Pa and, consequently, the forces that they can generate in unconstrained conditions are low. Measured values of force generation are about 1N/g of swollen gel. Isotropic volumetric free swelling can be very large indeed, with swelling ratios but is Omni-directional. Differential swelling, and hence bending, of the beam or plate-like shapes, can be induced by charge separation techniques involving static or alternating external electrical field. They are essentially soft elastomeric materials. In order to generate higher forces, at the expense of reduced deformability, and take advantage of their swelling potential and virtual incompressibility, their expansion must be confined. This is analogous to the free expansion of a gas that cannot produce useful work.
Dielectric elastomers actuators exploit the electrostatic Maxwell stress experienced by all dielectrics. These are dry materials based on relatively soft elastomeric films. Essentially the device is a capacitor in which the electrodes are attached to the polymer film. Upon application of a voltage, the charges on the opposing electrodes attract each other, reducing film thickness. Since such rubbers deform at almost constant volume this leads to an expansion of the area of the polymer film. Furthermore, the like charges on each electrode will repel each other tending to lead to an expansion of the electrode. There is a built-in amplification process since as the film thickness decreases the electric field strength increases. As a consequence, the actuation is non-linear with a strain approximately proportional to the square of the applied voltage. Strains of up to 400% have been observed in acrylic elastomers exerting a pressure of 7 MPa. Such systems have the highest energy densities observed for any EAP but the voltages required may be as high as 5kV.
EAPs based on conducting polymers utilize mass transport of ions into and out of the polymer. Two key requirements are an electric-field-driven diffusion mechanism to transport metal ions into the polymer and polymer conduction to get electrons into the polymer to generate this field. In both cases, the polymer change can be used to generate mechanical work. Such materials have been widely fabricated as bending actuators. Polypyrrole and derivatives and polyaniline based systems have been extensively studied. These activator types exhibit modest strains of 10% but can develop high pressures, for example, 450M Pa. However, the overall response times are relatively slow.
Considerable progress still needs to be made with EAP technologies before commercially viable applications are made other than in the area of piezoelectric polymers. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for future developments. Applications such as fabrics and textile structures will require fiber-like EAP actuators and sensors in order to achieve effective integration. The large stimulated displacements that have been observed have encouraged new thinking in terms of both applications and designs. The natural ease of preparing and shaping such materials, coupled with their low mass and large displacements, opens up new approaches in many traditional areas as well as the potential to enable new technologies.
When one is considering utilising nanomaterials in textiles much depends on what functionality is desired and the compatibility of the nanomaterial with the fibre material. The level of functionality is determined both by the specific properties of the material and also how it is incorporated with the fiber. The compatibility is determined in a large part by the surface chemistry of the particles and the production process used to make the nanomaterial.
Manufacturing nanoparticles can be achieved through a wide variety of different routes, some of which have been around for many years, others which are far more recent. In essence, there are four generic routes to make your nanoparticles; wet chemical, mechanical, form-in-place and gas-phase synthesis. The resultant materials can have significantly different properties depending on the route chosen to fabricate them and some routes are more aligned with the fabrication of certain classes of materials.
Here are some selections of product types that we offer.
Or use the search box to find what you're looking for!
WHERE WE WORK
We'd love your feedback!
Swing by for a cup of tea, or leave us a note: