Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku, Japan.
This article presents an active textile braided in three strands with thin McKibben muscle. The fabrication of a textile using thin McKibben muscle as thread can be accomplished using a unique braiding method, developed in this study, to provide an active textile that shrinks along the transverse surface direction. This textile-type actuator is suitable as a type of soft robotic actuator for application in wearable robots and musculoskeletal robots because it is extremely lightweight, flexible, and easily applied to robot structures. In this article, the design and characteristics of a braided muscle in three strands, acting as the basic component of an active textile, as well as the design and static characteristics of the active textile, are presented. In addition, theoretical models are proposed for the active textile, and their theoretical characteristics are accordingly derived. The static characteristics of active textiles woven using various design parameters were then evaluated through experiments and modeling. The active textiles were found, both theoretically and experimentally, to provide a greater contraction ratio than a single muscle strand.
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