Soft robotic fabric design, fabrication, and thermoregulation evaluation

Yan Cui, Xiaogang Liu, Jintu Fan, Dahua Shou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Usually, traditional insulation materials have a constant thermal resistance value that cannot change within the ambient temperature and will decrease as ambient humidity or external stress increases. Humans heavily rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to meet the thermal comfort requirements of their bodies, giving rise to energy waste and global warming. As an infinitely available natural resource, air is one of the most efficient thermal retaining substances known to science. Inspired by soft pneumatic robotics, we propose an architecture for air-driven thermoregulation fabrics called soft robotic fabrics (SRF). By changing the thickness of trapped air layer in fabric system through SRF, wearers could modify garments’ thermal insulation performance. A fabrication method is introduced to rapidly manufacture low-cost pneumatic structures using various types of construction and dimensions. With excellent ductility, elasticity, and compression resistance, the thickness of SRF increases by 12 times or more after inflation, and the fabric even can lift an object 270 times heavier than its weight. The excellent deformability can effectively increase stable air layer between clothing and skin. Based on the Predicted Mean Vote–Predicted Percentage of Dissatisfied model, the thermoregulation capability of SRF helps HVAC expand the temperature setpoint range by 3–8 times when compared with traditional fabrics, and has far-reaching significance in saving energy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTextile Research Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • garment design
  • pneumatic actuation
  • soft robotic
  • Thermal comfort
  • thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Polymers and Plastics

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