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What to know about e-textile standards 

IPC gives an up-to-date review of progress made and ongoing projects.

Features | August 22, 2022 | By: Chris Jorgensen

By incorporating a type of plastic yarn and using heat to slightly melt it (thermoforming), MIT researchers were able to greatly improve the precision of pressure sensors woven into multilayered knit textiles, which they call 3DKnITS. Photo: Irmandy Wicaksono/ MIT

As the e-textiles industry continues to grow, it will be essential that there are consensus-based international standards to support the industry to ensure reliability of materials and products and best practices used in design and manufacture. As an industry trade association with decades of standards development for the electronics manufacturing industry, IPC has a collection of more than 300 international standards. These standards represent collective knowledge and best practices from the supply chain and are used worldwide for designing and manufacturing electronics. All these standards are developed to help the electronics industry to build electronics better.

An open process

All IPC standards are developed and maintained by volunteers from the global electronics industry, and all IPC standardization activities are open to anyone for participation; volunteers don’t don’t need to pay a fee or be an IPC member to participate. This ensures that IPC standards are representative of the industry at large, rather than the case of pay-to-play standards development, which may serve to benefit only the companies that can afford to play.

It is this approach and philosophy to standards development that inspired the e-textiles industry to approach IPC as a home to develop international standards. Starting with one working group in 2017, the IPC E-Textiles Committee has grown to multiple working groups developing IPC standards. These working groups also represent the full spectrum of those with interest in e-textiles technologies, from academia to materials suppliers, to integrators, to OEMs and brands. 

The companies represent a large cross-section of end-use markets, including defense, fashion, athletics, medical and automotive. The nearly 150 members of our working groups also represent 27 countries, showing a true representation of international standards development.

Work in progress

Two IPC task groups are working on standards for conductive yarns and woven, knitted and braided e-textiles, one of which is new and the other a revision of the first standard published by the committee. IPC/JPCA-8911, Requirements for Conductive Yarns for E-Textiles Applications is being developed jointly with the Japan Electronics Packaging and Circuits Association (JPCA). This new standard will identify categories and establish the classification system and qualification and quality conformance requirements and test methods for conductive yarns used in e-textiles. 

The need for this standard arose out of the revision of IPC-8921, Requirements for Woven, Knitted and Braided E-Textiles Integrated with Conductive Yarns and/or Wires, and this new standard will also benefit new standards activities focused on embroidered e-textiles. The goal for this standard will be to have base test methods that any yarn supplier can use to show the electrical, thermal, mechanical and chemical exposure characteristics of their materials according to specific test methods. These will make it possible for customers to be able to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons of materials.

IPC-8921A will establish the classification system as well as qualification and quality conformance requirements affecting electrical/electronic performance of woven, knitted and braided e-textiles integrated with conductive yarns and/or wires. This revision will reference many new IPC Test Methods for e-textiles durability, which are being developed jointly as part of the effort around IPC-8981 for wearables (discussed below).

The task groups for these standards are led by Sahar Rostami, Myant Inc., and Joe Geiger, Bally Ribbon Mills. The plan is to release them in Q4 2023.

Printed electronics

There are two standards and one IPC Test Method being developed for printed electronics for e-textiles systems. IPC-8952, Design Standard for Printed Electronics on Coated or Treated Textiles and E-Textiles will establish requirements for the design of printed electronics and their forms of component mounting on coated or treated textile substrates. 

The textile substrate could be a bare textile or an integrated e-textile (woven or knitted), as shown in the example standard printed electronic design (SPED) classification from IPC-8952. SPEDs provide a visual description for a designer to communicate to the manufacturer the printing process steps for building the design. 

In the example figure, blue is the textile substrate, grey is printed conductive ink and green is printed dielectric ink. F and S represent the first and second (or top and bottom) side of the substrate and the numbers show each printing step in the process.   

As part of the development of this standard, the task group developed IPC-8971, Requirements for Electrical Testing of Printed Electronics on Textiles, as well as a new IPC Test Method, Conductor Temperature Rise Due to Current Changes in Conductors for Printed Conductor Materials on Textiles.

The task groups for these are led by Pratyush Rai, Nanowear Inc., and Chuck Kinzel, Liquid Wire Inc. These three documents will be released in Q4 2022, and then a new task group will begin work this fall on a quality and reliability standard.

E-textile wearables

In late 2018, e-textiles companies and academia from Europe formed a regional IPC E-Textiles Committee in Europe to discuss and debate standards needs from their region. These discussions led to the group determining the need for a standard for e-textiles for wearable applications.

This led to the formation of a new task group that spent the past two-and-a-half years working on IPC-8981, Quality and Reliability of E-Textiles Wearables, which will establish required testing and reliability expectations for e-textiles wearables products. This standard will set testing requirements for multiple mechanical and exposure characteristics that would apply to e-textiles wearables systems. These include acid, microbes, saltwater, perspiration, alkali, abrasion, stretch, torsion, flex endurance and washability. 

As part of the development of this new standard, the task group identified the need to develop test methods to be used to measure electrical performance of wearables to the mechanical and exposure characteristics. Many of these same “IPC Test Methods” will be called out in IPC-8921, as well as the new printed electronics reliability standard. This will ensure that as the product moves through the supply chain, there will be consistent testing and measurement methods. 

During its work, this group has also curated a plethora of content on e-textiles wearables. Since the reliability standard will be very brief and focus on the requirements, the task group did not want to have that information go unused, so a new task group is forming to work on IPC-8961, Guideline on E-Textile Wearables. This guideline will provide best practices and useful information for those interested in developing e-textiles wearables. This will serve as an educational resource, as well as a suitable supplement to users of IPC-8981 who may be looking for additional background information on the characteristics and testing of that standard.

The task group for IPC-8981 is led by Vladan Koncar with ENSAIT GEMTEX Lab, University of Lille, and Sigrid Rotzler, Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM. Their plan is to complete work on IPC-8981 and its test methods by early 2023. The task group for IPC-8961, which is being led by Paula Veske, Universiteit Gent, will begin its work this fall.

Embroidered e-textiles

In early summer, an interest group formed under the IPC E-Textiles Committee to discuss needs for standards for embroidered e-textiles. Over the course of several meetings, that group curated a list of gaps in standardization, focusing on materials, design requirements, reliability, integration methods and manufacturability.

An action team (IPC A-Team) from the interest group is working through that long list of topics to propose a plan for standards development to the full interest group. Any task groups that form for embroidered e-textiles will benefit from the work that has been done by the preceding list of task groups, which will have created new IPC Test Methods, set reliability expectations for product and established qualification expectations for materials, which will help those groups speed the time to market for their standards.

This activity is being led by Melanie Hoerr, ZSK Stickmaschinen GmbH, and we anticipate standards development task groups for these technologies to begin forming Q4 of this year or early 2023.

Significant opportunities

Many other IPC task groups develop and maintain standards for additional topics of interest to e-textiles product developers, such as component assembly, conductive and dielectric inks, insulation materials and electronics design rules. These are existing, well-established standards in the electronics industry that are and will continue to be referenced from other IPC e-textiles standards and can also be used as a starting point for new IPC e-textiles standards.

Additionally, through IPC’s Factory of the Future Initiative, IPC task groups have also developed or are in the process of developing industry standards covering topics such as Digital Twin, Supply Chain Traceability, Model Based Definitions for Components, Component-Level Authentication and Cybersecurity. Many members from the IPC E-Textiles Committee are also involved in the development and maintenance of these standards.

The Fabricators. Hangin’ By a Thread. The Terminators. Smarties. Team Wearablist. Traceblazers. These are just examples of IPC task group action teams (A-Teams), which are small, highly dedicated groups of individuals that take on tasks such as developing draft content for IPC international standards and Test Methods and proposing resolutions or comments on draft documents for final consensus by the task group. These teams are an asset to IPC because their volunteers act in the spirit and dedication of standards development for the betterment of the industry. Each team has important tasks, but there’s plenty of creativity and fun involved, as well, clearly indicated by the names they’ve chosen. 

Any individual or organization wishing to participate in the development of standards is invited to join one of the task groups. Those with the time and ability to play a more active role in our standards development, should consider joining an A-Team. For more, visit

Chris Jorgensen is director, Technology Transfer, IPC. He can be reached at

The website given also includes free access to an on-demand library of e-textiles presentation recordings. IPC E-Textiles 2023 will be held in San Diego, Calif., January 23 during IPC APEX EXPO 2023. Attendees may attend task group meetings for the IPC E-Textiles Committee. Visit

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