Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Advanced Search

Smart materials and novel actuators: Creative applications in art and design

Walters, Peter



Outcomes are presented from an interdisciplinary project investigating creative applications for smart materials within art and design practice. Smart materials exhibit changes in their physical properties in response to external stimuli. Materials displaying changes in size or shape when stimulated by heat or electricity may be employed as “artificial muscles” providing movement or changes in shape in physical objects. This research project explores how smart materials, together with 3D printing and fabrication technologies, can be exploited in the creative realisation of kinetic and interactive art and design objects.

Two practical examples are presented. The first is a novel tentacle-like “smart puppet” which exploits shape-memory alloy artificial muscles and soft 3D printing, enabling it to exhibit life-like movement when controlled by a purpose-built flexible wand. The second example is a biologically-driven “artificial heartbeat” which exploits pneumatic pressure generated by live yeast and a shape-memory alloy smart valve to effect a novel pulsating action.

The project was undertaken in collaboration with Ioannis Ieropoulos (Bristol Robotics Laboratory), David McGoran (University of the West of England) and Jonathan Rossiter (University of Bristol), and was funded by an Early Career Starter Grant from the University of the West of England, UK.

Presentation Conference Type Lecture
Start Date May 29, 2014
Publication Date May 1, 2014
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Walters, P. (2014, May). Smart materials and novel actuators: Creative applications in art and design. Presented at Technarte International Conference on Art and Technology
Keywords smart materials, art and design, kinetic, interactive, shape-memory alloy
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Technarte International Conference on Art and Technology


You might also like

Downloadable Citations