Have you ever heard about Shape Memory Alloys? Put simple, Shape Memory Alloys are metals that “remember” their original shapes. They are useful for such things as actuators, materials that change shape, stiffness, position, natural frequency and other mechanical characteristics in response to temperature or electromagnetic fields.
There are many uses and applications for Shape Memory Alloys. One of these applications is a powered robotic arm which uses a Shape Memory Alloy instead of a motor. A Nickel Titanium alloy called Nitinol, is a shape memory material that can bounce between two configurations depending on its temperature. By running a current through the metal, the wires can be heated up and made to flex. A research team in Germany harnessed this property and built the wires into a plastic arm to work as tiny muscles that can tug and pull individual fingers to open and close. As a supplier of both Nickel and Titanium, we are always interested to discover innovative applications of metals like Shape Memory Alloys.