Active-contracting variable-stiffness fabrics for self-fitting wearables

Kevin Eschen, Julianna Abel, Rachael Granberry, Brad Holschuh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


Self-fitting is the ability of a wearable, garment or body-mounted object to recover the exact shape and size of the human body. Self-fitting is highly desirable for wearable applications, ranging from medical and recreational health monitoring to wearable robotics and haptic feedback, because it enables complex devices to achieve accurate body proximity, which is often required for functionality. While garments designed with compliant fabrics can easily accomplish accurate fit for a range of body shapes and sizes, integrated actuators and sensors require fabric stiffness to prevent drift and deflection from the body surface. This paper merges smart materials and structures research with anthropometric analysis and functional apparel methodologies to present a novel, functionally gradient self-fitting garment designed to address the challenge of achieving accurate individual and population fit. This fully functional garment, constructed with contractile SMA knitted actuator fabrics, exhibits tunable %-actuation contractions between 4-50%, exerts minimal on-body pressure (≤1333 Pa or 10 mmHg), and can be designed to actuate fully self-powered with body heat. The primary challenge in the development of the proposed garment is to design a functionally gradient system that does not exert significant pressure on part of the leg and/or remain oversized in others. Our research presents a new methodology for the design of contractile SMA knitted actuator garments, describes the manufacture of such self-fitting garments, and concludes with an experimental analysis of the garment performance evaluated through three-dimensional marker tracking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopment and Characterization of Multifunctional Materials; Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Adaptive Systems; Integrated System Design and Implementation
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791851944
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
EventASME 2018 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2018 - San Antonio, United States
Duration: Sep 10 2018Sep 12 2018

Publication series

NameASME 2018 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2018


ConferenceASME 2018 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NASA OTC through a Space Technology Research Fellowship (grant 80NSSC17K0158) as well as MnDRIVE Robotics, Sensors, and Advanced Manufacturing (RSAM). We would like to thank both parties for their support of the conducted research.


  • Functional fabric
  • Knitted actuator
  • Self-fitting
  • Shape memory alloy
  • Wearable


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