Conductive fabric heaters for heat-activated soft actuators

Mark Cartolano, Boxi Xia, Aslan Miriyev, Hod Lipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We examine electrically conductive fabrics as conductive heaters for heat-activated soft actuators. We have explored various fabric designs optimized for material properties, heat distribution and actuation/de-actuation characteristics of the soft actuators. We implemented this approach in the silicone/ethanol composite actuators, in which ethanol undergoes a thermally-induced phase change, leading to high actuation stress and strain. Various types of conductive fabrics were tested, and we developed a stretchable kirigami-based fabric design. We demonstrate a fabric heater that is capable of cyclic heating of the actuator to the required 80 °C. The fabric with the special kirigami design can withstand temperatures of up to 195 °C, can consume up to 30 W of power, and allows the actuator to reach > 30% linear strain. This technology may be used in various systems involving thermally-induced actuation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Conductive fabric
  • Heating element
  • Heating pattern
  • Kirigami
  • Mechanical properties
  • Resistive heating
  • Soft actuation
  • Soft electronics
  • Soft robotics
  • Thermal imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Control and Optimization


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