Low spring index NiTi coil actuators for use in active compression garments

Bradley Holschuh, Edward Obropta, Dava Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This paper describes the modeling, development, and testing of low spring index nickel titanium (NiTi) coil actuators designed for use in wearable compression garments, and presents a prototype tourniquet system using these actuators. NiTi coil actuators produce both large forces (>1 N) and large recoverable displacements (>100% length) that are well suited for compression garment design. Thermomechanical coil models are presented that describe temperature and force as a function of non-dimensionalized coil geometry, extensional strain, and applied voltage. These models suggest that low spring index coils maximize activation force, and an analytical model is presented to predict garment counter-pressure based on actuator architecture. Several low spring index (C = 3.08) coils were manufactured, annealed, and tested to assess their detwinning and activation characteristics. Results suggest both annealing and applied stress affect activation thresholds. Actuator force increases both with extensional strain and applied voltage up to 7.24 N. A first-generation compression tourniquet system using integrated actuators with direct voltage control of applied pressure is presented, demonstrating >70% increase in applied pressure during activation. This approach enables new, dynamic garments with controllable activation and low effort donning and doffing, with applications ranging from healthcare solutions to advanced space suit design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6844155
Pages (from-to)1264-1277
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Active materials
  • Controllable compression garment design
  • Nickel titanium (NiTi) coil springs
  • Shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators
  • Smart textiles

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