Functional, or “smart,” materials can be used for engineering applications in fields such as medical devices, rehabilitation, aerospace, and defense. These pliable, lightweight materials can be created to provide actuation, sensing, energy harvesting, and communication. Researchers in the mechanical engineering department’s Design of Active Materials and Structures Laboratory (DAMSL) are involved in data-intensive investigations into these materials, with the current focus being shape memory alloy knitted architectures.
DAMSL did not have an existing infrastructure that allows researchers to easily manage simulation and experimental data. This means that individual researchers can miss connections between discoveries, unnecessarily repeat research effort, and fail to discover important trends. Kevin Eschen, who was a PhD student in the group of MSI PI Julianna Abel (assistant professor, Mechanical Engineering ), developed an infrastructure to correct these problems. He was awarded his PhD in 2020.
Dr. Eschen was a 2018-19 UMII MnDRIVE PhD Graduate Assistant. His final project report, "Active Textile Modeling and Experimental Characterization Data Management Infrastructure," was published in August 2020 and describes the proposed infrastructure, which includes an experimental data tool and a hierarchical modeling tool. Experimental data can be uploaded via a graphical user interface, and the hierarchical modeling tool connects sub-models. The infrastructure
preserves and connects experimental and simulated data, enables access and visibility to contributors within and outside the laboratory, and facilitates the identification of trends and trade-offs across investigated material and textile approaches.
A paper related to this research project, "Functionally Graded Knitted Actuators with NiTi-Based Shape Memory Alloys for Topographically Self-Fitting Wearables," won two awards at the 2020 annual conference of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Image description: Repetitive Volume Element Models: Repetitive volume elements can be defined on the fiber/yarn level, the textile unit cell level, and the textile pattern level. The specific geometry selected for the validation of this modeling architecture is the monofilament garter knit geometry.
posted on September 21, 2021