Introduction To FLEXINOL® Actuator Wire

FLEXINOL® actuator wire is a trade name for shape memory alloy actuator wires. Made of nickel-titanium these small diameter wires contract (typically 2% to 5% of their length) like muscles when electrically driven or heated. This ability to flex or shorten is a characteristic of certain alloys, which dynamically change their internal structure at certain temperatures. The idea of reaching higher temperatures electrically came with the light bulb, but instead of producing light, these alloys contract by several percent of their length when heated and can then be easily stretched out again as they cool back to room temperature. Like a light bulb both heating and cooling can occur quite quickly. The contraction of FLEXINOL® actuator wires when heated is opposite to ordinary thermal expansion, is larger by a hundredfold, and exerts tremendous force for its small size. The underlying technology, which causes the effect is discussed elsewhere. The main point is that movement occurs through an internal "solid state" restructuring in the material that is silent, smooth, and powerful.

This effect can be used in many ways. The list of viable applications is too long for any single listing. A safe assumption is that any task requiring physical movement in a small space with low to moderate cycling speeds is something that most likely will be better done with actuator wires. Many of the tasks currently being done with small motors or solenoids can be done better and cheaper with FLEXINOL® actuator wires. Since the actuator wires are much smaller for the work they do, a number of new products and improved designs on existing products are readily accomplished.

For new users of FLEXINOL® actuator wires, Dynalloy, Inc. strongly recommends that first an overview of what can be done is established. This can be done by obtaining one of the Dynalloy, Inc. kits made for such familiarization. Secondly, new users should consider obtaining from Dynalloy, Inc. or other consultants a "Proof of Concept" working model. This is not only useful as an internal marketing and sales tool, it also helps the new user to see how those with more experience approach the specific task in hand. Knowing this provides immeasurable insight into how to proceed and helps reduce the redundancy of reinventing existing techniques. One can always improve on existing methods and sufficient legal and other safeguards can be readily employed to ensure protection of proprietary ideas.



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