Fabricademy Week 12: Skin electronics

Fabricademy Week 12: Skin electronics

One of the stragest but most fascinating topics of the course was the skin electronics lecture. Using applications and processes from the Etextiles and soft robotcs classes, I created a soilicone mask with a series of LEDs in, all connected by a conductive thread on the outer layer.

Check out my development processes, the original assignment and presentation below.

Global Instructor: Katia Vega  >  Presentation

In the same way that the wearables industry is integrating fashion practices in their development, we envision new partnerships between the biotech/tech companies and skin professionals such as makeup artists, prosthesis experts and tattooists in order to embrace the idea of human-device symbiosis. FX e-makeup made use of special effects makeup for hiding electronic components that sense facial muscle movements, acting as a second skin.


Option 1:

Skin Masquerade Party

Option 2 >>> We looked at this as a group and came up with a game! Check here to see what we came up with (post to be added)

Twinkle Nails

Skin Masquerade Assignment

Initial design

As a leftover from the soft robotics class, I had a layer of the silicone which was warped and jhad been used as an additive piece. i decided to try to use this as the mask design and as the silicone already existed, I wanted to use the whole piece to actually see if I could sew through it too.  I traced around the original on paper, cut it ourt and then placed it over my eyes; the arch is where one eye would peer through, so I needed to create a hole for second eye.

I then drew some similarly wiggly lines to match the shape and these would be the initial lines for the conductive thread circuit. I finally decided on 2 lines and cut those out of paper as you can see below.

Testing & Sewing

My next challenge was to sew into the silicone. Having learnt from trying to sew other difficult types of materials such as leather, I noticed a useful technique is to put tissue or paper either side which is thin enough to be sewn through, it glides through and doesnt get stuck as leather would and it hardly changes the tension on my sewing machine.

The tissue was placed either side of the silicone and sewn through with conductive thread on one side and white thread on the other. I drew the design on the tissue so I knew what lines to roughly follow. Afterwards I tore off the tissue and the stitches remained. Some tearing happened but if take off carefully, the tissue is perforated by the needle, so it acts like a tear-away page. The other side is trickier as the silicone is now much more flexible with out support. This however gave me the idea to sew through the silicone again in the same technique, but with regular white thread.

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Adding the LED

The key now was to add the LEDs in series. I first sewed lines of conductive thread which would connect the upper and lower conductive lines, then add in the LEDs. I also tested the resistance and connectivity of the lines to ensure the everything was ok before adding the LEDS. Even after adding them in, I realised one was incorrect as you can see which I connected the threads to a coin battery.

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Final alterations & trying it on

What is quite nice about the shape of the mask, is that you can actually wear it different ways. The silicone means that the mask could be attached using a sort of glue that false eyelashes are stick on with, as well as with clips and a mask elastic. Here you can see some funny images of me trying it on (without any power attached at this stage). I also believe that it could be possible to paint and build upon the mask with silicone.


One great thing about the silicone conductive mask is that it can be rolled up and the LEDS nor the shape of the mask is affected. This could have some great applications for portable electronic systems and etextiles.


Concept for 3D printed – Etextiles – Skin Electronics project > Post to come


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