A smart metal Nitinol – that can “remember” a shape

A smart metal Nitinol, is a metal alloy made of Nickel and Titanium. It is the most common among-st the class of metals called Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) or Smart metals.

SMAs will try an return to a remembered shape when heated. The effect of Nitinol wire has to be seen to be believed, the odd metal will happily change shape and un-knot itself.

Nitinol has 2 main beneficial properties:

Shape Memory Effect (SME)
The SME is the deformation of the metal at a particular temperature. And reforming back to the initial shape at a higher temperature usually known as the Transformation temperature.

Super-elasticity (SE)
The Nitinol alloy is able to display super-elasticity with the ability to stretch 10 to 30 times it’s original length.


How does the shape memory alloy works?

Nitinols transit between two solid crystalline states called austenite and martensite.
At low temperatures, they take the form of martensite also known as the daughter phase. A complicated monoclinic crystal structure which is relatively soft, plastic, and easy to shape.

At a (very specific) higher temperature, they assume a simple cubic atomic structure referred to as austenite or the parent phase, which is a harder material and much more difficult to deform as it will immediately return to its previous shape.

Nitinol has been use for some specifics in industrial at different sectors.

  • Intelligent reinforced concrete
  • Nitinols are also used in making mechanical watch springs.
  • A temperature control system makes use of Nitinol as a temperature sensor.

In this video, an experiment how smart metal Nitinol work.

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Source materialintuition

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