Active Woven Materials

Applications

The inventors demonstrate a method that creates custom woven structures from patterns of self-activating fibers. This new method for creating highly active woven structures can provide significant manufacturing efficiencies as well as the potential for entirely new forms of smart structures relevant for various industries such as sports, medical, fashion, and furniture products.

Problems Addressed

Traditional methods of constructing 3-dimensional structures with complex geometry, curvature, or detailing require manual forcing of flat woven/knit/braided materials into place with molds, application of heat, or a globally defined pattern of the weave/knit/braid itself. Such methods prove labor and time intensive as complexity of a woven structure increases. Furthermore, these methods produce static structures that require manual manipulation if user or design needs change.

This invention introduces a new method for creating custom woven structures with highly active materials that self-transform. Active self-transforming woven materials present unique manufacturing opportunities for flexible, “smart” structures that can change shape for performance, comfort, or other applications based on user desire.

Technology

The method comprises one or more fibers woven, knit, or braided into a specific orientation. One or more of the fibers within the structure is an active material that has the capability of autonomously transforming from one shape into another after the application of energy such as heat, moisture, UV light, or other forms of energy. Physical transformation of these active woven materials can occur either along or perpendicular to the length of the active fiber. Additionally the combination of multiple fibers can cause either local or global transformation of the woven material.

To promote precise and repeatable physical transformation of active woven structures, the invention relies on careful design of three principles: (1) composition and characteristics of the overall woven/knit/braided pattern, (2) characteristics of the added active material fibers, and (3) attributes of the specific activation energy applied to the composite material. Crucial elements include the flexibility and stiffness of the weave pattern, the axis of activation for the active fiber, and amount of activation energy applied to the structure.

Advantages

  • Create unique and active geometric structures from flat, passive woven materials  
  • Potential to eliminate the need for forming or molding techniques in manufacturing process