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  • Feature Story

Behind the Scenes: Qualifying Wearable Materials


May 22, 2015

Wearable technology wristbands allow consumers to track their movements, answer phone calls and send messages to their smartphones. These products hold vast potential to improve consumers' everyday lives but could harm them, too, without proper safety measures. UL recently supported a wristband manufacturer who faced buyer complaints about skin irritation caused by the rusting of its wristband.

Applying their expertise in materials science, a team of research and development engineers designed a specific test to identify and verify the root cause of the skin irritation. Next, the UL team established a procedure to qualify new materials for the redesign of the smart wristband, empowering the manufacturer to produce a product that would create a higher quality customer experience.

With the exception of medical devices such as pacemakers, wearable technology brings electronic devices closer to the human body than many electronic devices. However, unlike medical devices, wearable technology faces light regulation. A manufacturer, therefore, must have a process in place for validating and qualifying new materials as well as following manufacturing standards in order to ensure product integrity.

Moreover, wearables are part of the apparel and fashion industry. Consumers demand different designs and colors every season, making them like no other electronics product. With this accelerated design cycle, savvy wearable technology manufacturers must use well-developed materials processes to turn out high-performing, safe products at a rapid pace.