Screen Printing Electroluminescent T-Shirts From Tron

Travel around to enough security conferences, faires, and festivals, and you’ll see some crazy wearable electronics. Most of them blink, and most of them use LEDs. Electroluminescent panels are used for wearables, but that’s a niche – the panels are a little expensive, and you have to deal with high frequency AC instead of the much simpler, ‘plug in a LiPo here’ circuit LED-based wearables have to contend with.

Still, electroluminescent panels are cool, and thanks to how EL panels are made, you can screen print EL displays. That’s what some of the guys at AMBRO Manufacturing did recently: screen printing electroluminescent lights directly onto garments. It’s t-shirts from Tron made real.

EL panels and EL wire are really only three separate parts: a conductor of some sort, a phosphor, and another conductor. Pass a high-frequency AC current through the conductors, and the phosphor lights up. With EL wire, it’s a thick copper wire clad in phosphor and wrapped in a very fine copper wire. EL displays are made with conductive ITO-coated glass or plastic. It’s a relatively simple construction, and one that is perfectly suited for screen printing. In fact, one of the first EL displays – the DSKY, the user interface for the Apollo Guidance Computer – used screen printed seven-segment EL displays.

The folks at AMBRO only have a proof of concept right now, but it is a completely screen printed electroluminescent design on fabric. To light it up, the t-shirt will need an inverter, but this is the beginnings of t-shirts from Tron.

Video below.

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Easily Silkscreen All the Things

Silkscreening isn’t as hard as it might seem. For instance, it’s easier than block printing because you don’t have to reverse the image. [Jimmy DiResta] shows how easy it is to put a silkscreening setup together and print on wood, metal, and, of course, t-shirts.

Once you decide on a design, print it out on an acetate sheet which can be run through a regular household printer. You can buy ready-made meshed frames or even entire kits, but [Jimmy] shows you how to build a simple frame and staple screen mesh to it. After sealing up the edges, mix up some photo emulsion, cover the mesh, and let it dry in a dark room.

When it’s dry, place your acetate on the screen and expose the emulsion using whatever light is available. [Jimmy] built a milk crate tower up to his fluorescent work light and exposed it for about four minutes. Now you’re almost ready to make your mark. Peel off the acetate and remove excess emulsion with a squirt bottle and compressed air. Dry the whole thing with a hair dryer and you’re done. Load up a squeegee with silkscreen ink and draw it from top to bottom with nice, even pressure, and you’ve got yourself a silkscreened thing.

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DIY laser cutter built to make stencils

It was time for some new T-shirts so [Andreas Hölldorfer] built a laser cutter. Wait, what? That’s the excuse he’s going with, and in the end this scratch built laser cutter did come in handy by cutting stencils to use when decorating his garments.

The first thing we thought when looking at the cutter is where’s the tube? [Andreas] didn’t use a CO2 laser, so this ends up being rather low-powered. The cutting head is a 1W blue laser diode which manages to slice the three-ring binder separator pages he’s using for the stencils. The two-axis machine is mounted inside a wooden box to protect his eyes while it’s cutting. He plans to add a drawer later on so that the cutting bed will slide in and out to swap out material for the next project. He already does a lot of 3D printing work and had an old RepRap driver board on hand to use for this projects. He designed and printed the red mounting brackets which make all of the junk-bin components work together. Not bad!

If you’d like to try this out on a smaller scale try using optical drive parts for the axes.

10bitworks shows us how to light up a synchronized swarm of LED jellyfish

10bitworks-led-tshirts

[Jeremy Zunker] from 10bitworks recently wrote in to share a cool build the group put together for the Luminaria 2012 festival which took place in March of this year. As you might have guessed, the fest is home to a wide array of light-themed projects, so the team at 10bitworks thought long and hard to come up with a design which would help them stand out from the other 79 featured artists.

At the core of their project is a t-shirt which features a deep-sea diver surrounded by swarm of jellyfish. Each of the jellyfish is backlit by an LED module, allowing the group to create intricate light patterns on the shirt.

10bitworks brought 8 shirts to the show, each fitted with a small control pack that contained a set of batteries and a Jeenode wireless board. A ninth Jeenode and a large antenna were used as the master control unit, sending signals to each of the t-shirts in order to synchronize the light display.

The final result turned out very nicely as you can see in the video below, where [Jeremy] walks through all of the project’s finer details.

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We knew we were doomed when the T-shirt cannon bots showed up

The newest addition to the Skynet armada is this 10-barrel t-shirt cannon. It’s capable of storming the battlements at over twelve feet per second with a firing rate of three T-shirts per second (ooh, is that cotton?).

The members of Team 254, which is hosted by Bellarmine College Preparatory School, built the robot over the summer. This involved a full production cycle; planning, 3D modelling, acquiring the materials, and finishing the build. All of this is well documented in their build blog and for video, check out their media page.

We already know how to customize the T-shirts for use as ammo, now what this needs is some tank treads.

Hackaday links: February 14, 2010

$30,000?

Is it art or is it a puzzle? Well, it functions as a game but it’s certainly a work of art and priced accordingly. The Superplexus was featured in Make Mazine and Hammacher Schlemmer sells it for thirty grand (you can’t just click to add it to your cart though). Think of the work that went into developing this! [via The Awesomer]

Rollable Display Update

[SeBsZ] continues work on his rollable display matrix. He’s got twenty five controller boards now and has them working as a matrix. We originally covered this in January but now it’s much easier to see how this can be made portable by mounting it on fabric or canvas. Check out the demo video if your interested.

Security testing suite

BackTrack 4 final has been released. If you didn’t like it when it was rough around the edges, you should give it another try. This lean and mean Linux ditro is made for security testing and is approachable for noob and pro alike. [Thanks Steve]

Power on the go

[Csae] uses this portable power center to fire up some studio strobes outside. It consists of a case, an uninterruptible power supply, and a couple of extension cords all hacked together into one. At first you might think this is a bit ghetto but it’s portable and it does what is intended.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Giving this LED-heart adorned shirt as a gift is sure to make your Valentine head for the hills. This project’s a few year’s old, but gawdy T-shirts never go out of style, right?

Direct to garment printing

Reader [deren lik] pointed out the world of direct to garment printing to us. You can purchase commercial machines that will print directly onto a t-shirt using inkjet technology. Unfortunately, these machines cost ~$10K, so hackers have decided to fill in the gaps. DIYDTG hosts plans for how to build your own DTG printer. Their standard instructions are based around the Epson C88 printer. A custom carrier is constructed and then the printer components are bolted on top. Commercial DTG printers are also based on Epson parts and you can easily purchase the garment inks even if you didn’t pay a premium for your printer.