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Shape Memory Alloys

Author: Darel E. Hodgson, Shape Memory Applications, Inc.; Ming H. Wu, Memry Corporation; and Robert J. Biermann, Harrison Alloys, Inc.   |   Document Download   |   Product code: ZASMHBA0001100

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THE TERM SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS (SMA) is applied to that group of metallic materials that demonstrate the ability to return to some previously defined shape or size when subjected to the appropriate thermal procedure. Generally, these materials can be plastically deformed at some relatively low temperature, and upon exposure to some higher temperature will return to their shape prior to the deformation. Materials that exhibit shape memory only upon heating are referred to as having a one-way shape memory. Some materials also undergo a change in shape upon recooling. These materials have a two-way shape memory. Although a relatively wide variety of alloys are known to exhibit the shape memory effect, only those that can recover substantial amounts of strain or that generate significant force upon changing shape are of commercial interest. To date, this has been the nickel-titanium alloys and copper-base alloys such as Cu-Zn-Al and Cu-Al-Ni. A shape memory alloy may be further defined as one that yields a thermoelastic martensite. In this case, the alloy undergoes a martensitic transformation of a type that allows the alloy to be deformed by a twinning mechanism below the transformation temperature. The deformation is then reversed when the twinned structure reverts upon heating to the parent phase.
  • From: ASM Handbook Volume 2, Properties and Selection: Nonferrous Alloys and Special-Purpose Materials (ASM International)
  • Published: 1990
  • Pages: 6
  • Review Type: Peer reviewed