Announcement of CNIE Inspiration Grant: Robust self-healing fabrics for soft robotic applications

01 June 2016

We are pleased to announce that Prof Mark Miodownik and Mark Ransley from the UCL Institute of Making ( have been awarded a Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering Inspirtation Grant on Robust self-healing fabrics for soft robotic applications.

Recent years have seen a surge in the fabrication and use of chainmail type fabrics in the design and fashion industries. They are made using advanced 3d printing technologies which allow bespoke garments to be printed in one piece using chainmail structures incorporating moving parts which yield the meta-properties of flexibility and drape required for garment functionality. Ransley, Smitham and Miodownik have pioneered the use of computational techniques to study and manipulate these properties to adapt the technology for orthopedic applications as part of the EPSRC funded Wearable Assistive Materials project (EP/K020323/1) which has now ended. Combining the fabric’s mechanical architecture with nature inspired solid-state actuators (artificial muscles) they have produced fabrics where the material properties can be modulated in real-time across the material.  In this follow-up study they take further inspiration from nature to develop self-healing mechanisms in these fabrics. Many biological systems self-heal by sensing damage, and activiely redistributing stresses across undamaged regions of the material, which is the approach they will take in this project.

This project runs from 1st October 2016 to 31st April 2017. During the project they will be holding a workshop to build on the UK’s strong recent history in researching adaptive architectures, including snake-like robots capable of recovering from partial muscle damage and adaptive trusses to minimize the weight of large-scale engineering projects. The chainmail structures at the heart of this project have many applications in rapidly growing sectors such as soft robotics, wearable technology, medical devices, aerodynamics, and acoustics, and they aim to continue developing their self-adaption and self-healing properties.

For more information please contact Mark Miodownik,

For further information about the CNIE Inspiration Grant, please contact us at

Further information about the Centre can be found here:

Announcement of CNIE Inspiration Grant: Robust self-healing fabrics for soft robotic applications