The recent discovery of a new kind of thermo-active coiled polymeric wires has opened new perspectives for the implementation of a novel class of actuators that can be easily and effectively manufactured using low-cost materials such as sewing threads or finishing lines. These new devices feature large displacements in response to temperature variations and show very promising performance in terms of energy and power densities.
With the aim of providing information and data useful for the future engineering applications of polymeric coiled actuators, a custom experimental test-bench and procedure have been developed and employed to characterise their thermo-mechanical response. Such a test-bench has been designed to run isothermal and isometric tensile tests on a set of sample actuators that are fabricated with a repeatable process.
This paper provides technical details on the manufacturing process of such sample actuators and on the design and operation of the test-bench. Preliminary experimental results are finally reported.