Supercoiled polymers (SCP) actuator, as a recently discovered artificial muscle, has attracted a lot of attention as a compliant and compact actuation mechanism. SCP actuators can be fabricated from nylon polymer threads, and generates up to 20% strain under thermal activation. A common challenge, however, is to accurately and efficiently estimate the performance of SCP actuators considering their significant hysteresis among loading, strain, and power input. Previous studies adopted either linear models that failed to capture the hysteresis or phenomenological models that required tedious procedures for identification and implementation. In this paper, a physics-inspired model is presented to efficiently capture and estimate SCP actuators’ strain – loading hysteresis by analyzing the properties of nylon threads from which they are fabricated. The strains of SCP actuators are found to be linear to that of the nylon threads under the same loading conditions. An efficient approach is proposed to characterize and estimate the strain – loading hysteresis of SCP actuators fabricated with different numbers of nylon threads. A helical spring model is adopted to obtain the stiffness of SCP actuators with different configurations. Experimental validation involving two-ply, four-ply, and six-ply nylon threads and SCP actuators are provided to confirm the effectiveness of the proposed model.

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