I'm developing a method to machine knit and solder copper wire, resulting in a flexible and conductive textile. Here are some of my test swatches, all knitted on my Brother 940 knitting machine in my new studio space. The swatches are knitted with 3 strands of 34 AWG wire, held together as a single strand.
A few observations:
A major challenge is drawing the wire off of spools. I use a Mala tabletop craft paper holder from Ikea. To keep the wire from unspooling when it goes slack, I cut up child-size nylon hose into bands and slipped a band over each spool. Then I fed the wire through the hose.
This creates a lot of drag, so I pull the wire out manually between each pass of the carriage, to the extent that the tension mast will take up the slack. It's fine for smaller swatches, but the mast doesn't take up enough wire to make a full pass of the carriage when knitting wide pieces. I'm exploring other options to do larger swatches.
Lace looks lovely but is difficult. The lace carriage works fine with the wire, but once the stitches are transferred, they need to be pulled down one-by-one manually so the stitch is wide enough for the needle to retract, as the 3-strands of "yarn" is too stiff to do so naturally. If this isn't done, the wires are prone to break on the next knitting carriage pass. I suspect lace would work better with single strands or finer gauges.
Tuck stitch looks great, and is fun to solder. It tends to get messy (not all strands being tucked or knitted) using all needles in work, works better using every other needle. I suspect this would go better on my Brother 260, which is designed for thicker yarns. Once I'm able to move it to the space and set up, I'll give that a try.