Preliminary experimental study of SMA knitted actuation architectures

Julianna Evans, Diann Brei, Jonathan Luntz

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

3 Scopus citations


Nature builds an immense set of materials exhibiting a wide range of behaviors using only a small number of basic compounds. The range of materials comes about through architecture, giving functional structure to the basic materials. Analogously, a new genre of actuators can be derived from existing smart materials through architecture. This paper presents a preliminary experimental study of knitted actuation architectures that yield high strains (up to 73%) with moderate forces (tens of Newtons or more) from basic contracting smart material fibers. By different combinations of the two primary knit loops - purl and knit - a variety of behaviors can be achieved including contraction, rolling, spirals, accordions, arching, and any combination of these across the fabric. This paper catalogs several basic knit stitches and their actuated form: garter, stockinette, seed, rib and I-cord. These knitted architectures provide performance tailorability (force, strain, stiffness, and motion) by manipulation of key design parameters such as the material properties of the wire, the geometric parameters (wire diameter, loop size, and gauge), and architectural parameters (stitch type and orientation). This is demonstrated via a quasi-static force-deflection experimental study with several shape memory alloy garter prototypes with varying geometric parameters. While the basic architecture of a knit is simple, it affords a vast array of architectural combinations and control of geometrical and material parameters that generate a myriad of gross motion capabilities beyond that of current day actuation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006 - Aerospace Division
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Print)0791837904, 9780791837900
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Event2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Nov 5 2006Nov 10 2006

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Aerospace Division (Publication) AD
ISSN (Print)0733-4230


Other2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL


  • Actuator
  • Knit
  • Shape memory alloy
  • Smart material architecture


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