Soft Robotics#


“Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.””
Biomimicry Institute


Thoughts on Soft Robotics and Textiles#

The fabrication of soft mechanical organisms based on the qualities of living organisms, such as worms and soft bodied molluscs, and how they adapt to their environments is an emerging field of exploration, with important implications in the medical field. It’s applications in the manufacturing sector are also significant as robots made with soft materials are safer to manipulate by humans, as well as being adaptable to a wide range of tasks for their malleable nature and flexible movements.

Soft robotics are based on the principles of biomimicry, the study of living organisms for the purpose of designing according to organic reactions. Pressured derived movements using the flow of liquid or air within a membrane is a technique derived from the study of plant shape morphology in fluid concentration within cell membranes as a response to environment. These movements are replicated in soft robotics by creating a membrane with various channels for air or fluids to fluctuate, changing pressure, shape and volumes within the channels to create movement in the membrane

For the purpose of this assignment I will explore the basis of folding and unfolding soft structures, but I will limit the experimentation with non-biodegradable materials such as vinyl and silicone for the sake of first understanding the mechanisms which can be explored through the understanding of collapsible structures and how they can be applied to textiles.

Using natural textiles for this process is difficult as they are porous in nature, a non-woven synthetic textile which is non-porous is necessary to encapsulate the air or liquid in the membrane. A bio-composite or a bio-plastic structure could be explored in further research for soft robotic textile applications.

In my experimentation, I will use a textile manufactured from recycled plastic to achieve a fluctuation of air flow between adhered textile layers using a thermal activated adhesive, leaving air pockets/channels free between both layers allowing the volume of air to expand and retract within the form.

The form of a butterfly will allow for the expansion and retraction of breath through channels branching from the base of the torso into the wings.

Experiments with Collapsable Origami#

Collapsable Origami from Catherine Euale on Vimeo.

Experiments with Collapsable Textile Forms#

Inspired by Issey Miyake, this sunglasses case is made collapsible by using a soft fleece lined recycled plastic textile with a triangular pattern created from more rigid textiles leaving equal pathways between shapes to create channels for the foundation (soft fabric) can articulate and flex into a flat, stacked surface.

Experimentation with Air Fluctuations:#

Exploring how folding can create a collapsible structure is the basis for creating movement in soft robotic muscle simulation. By investigating origami paper folding to create elongated structures which can fluctuate in size and the applying this technique to textiles either through pleats or through layering a more rigid fabric pattern onto a soft fabric to create foldable channels I hope to understand the mechanisms of movement through pathway articulation.


  • Oragami + Pleats
  • Experimentation with non-porous, non-woven, recycled fabrics
  • Pneumatics

Video Origami Tutorial#

DIY Butterfly Paper Oragami:#


Butterfly Laser Cut File