Conductive Thread - what's it made of, and how does it work?

Is it just a very, very fine bare metal wire, or does it have some sort of textile fiber core to give it more flexiblity and wear resistance (or is it a textile fiber that has inherent conductive properties itself)? Is it insulated like normal electrical wire? How does it differ from metallic embroidery thread?

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frollard8 years ago
it's usually an alloy of various metals, sometimes including copper, silver, tin, nickel, and other metals. It's a braided or twisted thread of 'insert favourite fiber here' - cotton or polyester, twisted with filaments of the conductive material. It's usually uninsulated, meaning any touching it is a connection. To make a secure connection you want to wrap the thread around the destination circuit (or hole in circuit board) several times to ensure good contact. I don't know anything about metallic thread - but I venture a guess that its not conductive, and simply uses non-conductive shiny materials.
Gorfram (author)  frollard8 years ago
Thanks - that's very helpful. :)
Chicken22098 years ago
Gorfram (author)  Chicken22098 years ago
Funny, your link got me about the same results as when I Googled "conductive thread" before posting my question :).

Lots of people who want to sell me the stuff, nobody (at least not in the first two pages of results) who cares to share any technical info that might help me understand the stuff.

Even the hit from "Popular Science" was just another shill:
"While a new product from SparkFun Electronics is ostensibly designed for wiring wearable LIlyPad projects together, this conductive thread could be an instant hit with hackers, too. Garnering around 82 ohms worth of resistance, each 117/17 2-ply spool of thread could help with those delicate ASUS Eee PC hacks. At $16.95 per spool, this conductive thread is not for the squeamish. When inserted in a sewing machine and combined with paper PCBs, however, this thread could open up a whole new concept in circuit design—stitch-a-circuit." (http://www.popsci.com/category/tags/conductive-thread)

(Now I remember why I never read "Popular Science.")

Sorry to sound so churlish, but (further churlishness deleted).
I don't really see the advantage of conductive thread over wire other than cosmetics.

It sounds like it's as liable to breaking as in-ear headphone cables are; it's still metal and that metal doesn't look much different to wire in cables?

Related 'thread':
http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php?topic=63549.0;wap2