FAB Lab, Round 3

This week was our final day (as a class at least) at the FabLab, and I was doing the last of the three stations, Digital Embroidery. Now, I’ll be completely honest, this was the station that I was least looking forward to. I feel at home when writing code or building circuits, but embroidery? That sounds too close to art class for me. But my problem was that I failed to see all the uses of this technology.

As our exercise, we made patches of images we found online. I went with my tried and tested Raspberry Pi logo, and I added a circular border. Once loading the design onto a flash drive, I took it over to a digital embroidery machine (which is surprisingly similar to a 3D printer) and started making it a reality. The whole process went pretty smoothly, and I even managed to thread the machine (after a few failed attempts). The final result had a few gaps, but I was able to color them in with a sharpie.


While the patch is nifty, and has earned a permanent place on my computer, I barely scratched the surface of what we could do. The machine can actually make fairly intricate designs, and with the slew of the new types of conductive fabrics, there are so many possibilities for wearable devices, and not just entire computers crammed onto your wrist, but real pieces of clothing. An entire shirt could be a circuit that would have embedded sensors. An idea I had would be for a onesie for an infant. The garment could have some sensors embedded and a tiny bluetooth module that would be the size of a button, all part of the clothing, that could alert the parent’s phone when the baby needs attention. The possibilities are really endless, and this tech could let us interact with wearables in a whole new way.

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