Soft robots adapt passively to complex environments due to their inherent compliance, allowing them to interact safely with fragile or irregular objects and traverse uneven terrain. The vast tunability and ubiquity of textiles has enabled new soft robotic capabilities, especially in the field of wearable robots, but existing textile processing techniques (e.g., cut‐and‐sew, thermal bonding) are limited in terms of rapid, additive, accessible, and waste‐free manufacturing. While 3D knitting has the potential to address these limitations, an incomplete understanding of the impact of structure and material on knit‐scale mechanical properties and macro‐scale device performance has precluded the widespread adoption of knitted robots. In this work, the roles of knit structure and yarn material properties on textile mechanics spanning three regimes–unfolding, geometric rearrangement, and yarn stretching–are elucidated and shown to be tailorable across unique knit architectures and yarn materials. Based on this understanding, 3D knit soft actuators for extension, contraction, and bending are constructed. Combining these actuation primitives enables the monolithic fabrication of entire soft grippers and robots in a single‐step additive manufacturing procedure suitable for a variety of applications. This approach represents a first step in seamlessly “printing” conformal, low‐cost, customizable textile‐based soft robots on‐demand.
This content will become publicly available on January 1, 2024
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