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Open AccessArticle

Characterization and Lubrication of Tube-Guided Shape-Memory Alloy Actuators for Smart Textiles

1
Department of Engineering Mathematics, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UB, UK
2
SoftLab, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
3
Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF24 3AA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040094
Received: 25 September 2019 / Revised: 22 October 2019 / Accepted: 4 November 2019 / Published: 8 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft Machines: Integrating Sensing, Actuation and Computation)
Smart textiles are flexible materials with interactive capabilities such as sensing, actuation, and computing, and in recent years have garnered considerable interest. Shape-memory alloy (SMA) wire is well-suited for smart textiles due to its high strength, small size, and low mass. However, the contraction of SMA wire is low, limiting its usefulness. One solution to increasing net contraction is to use a long SMA wire and guide it inside a tube that is wound back and forth or coiled inside a smart textile. In this article, we characterize the performance of tube-guided SMA wire actuators. We investigate the effect of turn radius and number of loops, showing that the stroke of an SMA-based system can be improved by up to 69.81% using the tube-guided SMA wire actuator concept. Finally, we investigate how tube-guided SMA wire actuators can be lubricated to improve their performance. Coarse graphite powder and tungsten disulfide lubricant both delivered improvements in stroke compared with an unlubricated system. View Full-Text
Keywords: smart textile; shape-memory alloy; tube-guided; Bowden; characterization; lubrication smart textile; shape-memory alloy; tube-guided; Bowden; characterization; lubrication
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Helps, T.; Vivek, A.; Rossiter, J. Characterization and Lubrication of Tube-Guided Shape-Memory Alloy Actuators for Smart Textiles. Robotics 2019, 8, 94.

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