Roboticizing fabric by integrating functional fibers

Yale University, CT, researchers have developed robotic fabrics by integrating functional fibers into conventional textiles. Fabrics, with their interlocking fibers, tend to be breathable, lightweight, and highly compactible materials. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and colleagues explored the design of independently functioning fabric machines and developed a standalone platform for robotic fabrics.

Flattened heat-responsive Nitinol shape-memory alloys were used as the actuator. Field's metal-epoxy composite variable support fibers were incorporated into this to lend stiffness to the fabric when needed, such as when supporting a load. Finally, the fibers were painted with conductive ink that can sense the strain or bending of the fabric to help control and hold curvatures. By incorporating these fibers into conventional fabrics, the researchers developed a robotic tourniquet and shape-changing napkin-sized robotic sheet that automatically folds into a box capable of supporting 50 g of weight.

Established textile manufacturing processes could eventually be leveraged for the production of rolls of robotic fabric that could be used to make self-reconfiguring machinery. These fabrics present a means to create smart adaptable clothing, self-deployable shelters, and lightweight shape-changing machinery.

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Roboticizing fabric by integrating functional fibers. Trevor L. Buckner, R. Adam Bilodeau, Sang Yup Kim, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2020, 117 (41) 25360-25369; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2006211117

Subject Classifications

Industries and Applications | Medical Devices

Industries and Applications | Metal Products and Machinery

Metals and Alloys | Shape Memory Alloys

Metals and Alloys | Superalloys, Nickel, and Cobalt

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» Publication Date: 05/07/2021

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 737882.



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