August 14, 2022

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How do you use clothes with synthetic muscles?

How do you use clothes with synthetic muscles?

The above title sounds a bit futuristic, but it’s about the most realistic technology. All thanks to the achievements of the representatives of the University of New South Wales.

It was they who decided to program the fabrics so that they could expand or contract under the influence of thermal, electrical and many other stimuli. As a result, they can be used in many different ways. And who wouldn’t love to have clothes that can automatically change their look? Details about it are shown in the pages Scientific Reports.

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These types of innovations have become popular relatively recently, but the technology has faced many serious problems that stand in the way of its generalization. Thanh Nhu, lead author of the new study, points out the limitations associated with the slow reaction time of textiles and the problems with their production. This is why Nho and his buddies decided to show their own concept, which should be more accessible.

This resulted in miniature, responsive artificial muscles consisting of long, fluid-filled silicone tubes. The latter can be controlled by hydraulic pressure, which allows the muscle to expand when pressure increases and contract when pressure decreases. Thanks to the method used, based on the introduction of tubes with a diameter calculated in micrometers, engineers were able to mass-produce artificial muscles of any size and size.

Synthetic muscle clothing can support people with limited mobility

Thanks to the fibrous structure, the muscles can be stored on spools and freely cut. As explained by team members, the combination of hydraulic pressure, fast response time, light weight, compact size and high flexibility makes smart fabrics so versatile. This includes their use in soft robots and, of course, smart clothing. More specifically, it is possible, for example, to support people with reduced mobility, and even to equip robots involved in rescue operations.

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However, scientists plan to make further modifications. Their immediate goal would be to reduce the diameter of the artificial muscles, which is still far from that of humans, for example. While synthetic fibers are currently about 0.5 mm in diameter, in final form it will be less than 0.1 mm. Besides, team members would like to use a miniature pump and wireless communication modules to make the whole system more compact.