Soft Robotics

Anastasia and Zoe introduced us to Soft Robotics with the exploration of pneumatics.
By opposition to mechanical systems (usually used in robotics), this idea of “air traces” makes it highly compatible to the use of textiles.

Materials used:
– thermoflex (heat transfer vinyl)
– baking paper
– feeding tubes
– heat shrink tubes

Tools used:
– cutter and scissors
– iron (on wool heat)
– heat gun



Some examples in video:

  • bending structure


  • shrinking structure


Making process explanations (step by step):

  • remove the protective plastic layer on the vinyl (although it´s on the outer side it is more complicated to remove it later and can harm the sealing)
  • we need two layers of vinyl against each other that will be heated up to fuse.
    in order to keep some parts non fused (where the air will circulate and inflate) we use baking paper.

> cut the desired traces in baking paper

Practical notes :

  • let enough space for the edges to seal
  • temporary hold the traces with tape (it´s not holding it perfectly but it helps when traces are cut manually and added on // cut one shape with vinyl cutter would cancel this step)
  • think of having a line going out to add the tube later (~1,25cm width)


> iron on to seal both layers (not too long and not too hot, 20sec on “wool” heat seemed fine)

> insert the tube and inflate: for the first test hold the tube in your fingers before sealing it with a shrink tube (cut 2cm around the end to include some of the vinyl into the shrink tube)