The development process with SMA
Your products and systems will be developed for you in a structured manner. You will be able to gain valuable insights at every stage and profit from our wholistic approach: It ranges from developing minimal viable products to functional models, all the way to working prototypes. In case at any stage external support is needed, you will find benefit from our
large network of partners and suppliers. Even after development you will receive exactly the support you need for a successful start of production (SOP) and product launch.
The overall process from your query to SOP
As you may be accustomed, the development process usually is carried out in several phases which are based on milestones. Together we will define an approach that lives up to your expectations. In general terms, the milestones are “general feasibility”, “approved concept” and “released for SOP”.
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When you approach us with your query, we are often talking about a first idea or a rough concept of application. You are just as interested as we are to challenge the feasibility in a manner that is as efficient as possible: This saves you and us effort and allows both sides to employ their capacities in a dedicated manner. At this stage, general technical questions will be examined.
As long as your requirements are not limited by the laws of physics, you will receive a concept for your query including a possible design of your SMA component. Usually, this point is reached with a very small budget; our transparent charge on an hourly basis allows you full control over your costs at all times.
After your approvement of the basic feasibility you may wish to discuss alternative concepts. At this stage you might want to engage us for supporting you regarding a thorough analysis of the patent situation. After your decision, we will go about providing the heart of your system, consisting of an SMA component individually designed and produced for your query.
This is how fast you can obtain your minimal function model
As soon as the final concept is designed for you, you will receive a prototype. Depending on the scope of your development project, it may be an SMA component or a system comprising of SMA components within. The prototype allows you to rapidly evaluate the functionality on a quantitative basis. This allows you to be able to see very fast if you are on track for a home run or whether further iteration is required. If until present you have had little contact with solutions based on SMA, usually you will see yourself confronted with questions which you may not have asked yourself before.
For actively controlled systems, we use control electronics that are based on our EMS and adapted to your use-case. After establishing your prototype, these are tested in order to qualitatively test its functions. We also avail of our in-house test apparatus that has been specifically developed for automated long-term tests of SMA solutions.
How do you want to validate and test your new development based on SMA?
Needless to say that the applying standards in your industry such as ASTM (medical technology) or VDA 6.3/IATF 16949 (automotive industry) will be taken into account when developing your solution. However, when working with shape memory alloys is necessary to go beyond the validation and test methods that you are accustomed to. Standard tests known to you unfortunately may only be used to a limited extent. Since SMA represent a technology which cannot be evaluated entirely according to the common rules of state of the engineering, we are happy to help you along and take these steps on your behalf.
Taking a look at literature – even SMA literature, standard test methods are not sufficiently described. In actual fact, most cases don’t take the peculiarities of the mutual dependency between SMA components and the system into account. For example, a standard test situation may not consider the aspect of an unwanted thermal shock in a way that should be appropriate for SMA: This might not even happen when the system is used in-field, however may prove relevant when designing and carrying out your test procedure.
These special validation methods provide you with according results
For reasons mentioned above and in previous sections, this implies that it is necessary to precisely consider the requirements of your query. This will prove particularly relevant at the stage of validation; it is here that we avail of test devices specifically designed to the application of SMA components and systems. They enable automated testing for carrying out continuous tests and – if required – are developed in-house specifically for your needs. In addition, we use drive electronics based on our EMS for actively controlled systems that are equally adapted to cater for your requirements.
The electrical properties of your individual SMA component are qualified using specifically developed hardware, implying that the components you receive are equipped with control electronics specifically calibrated for your use-case. Beyond classic material analyses, it is frequently desired to carry out functional tests specific to your components in development. These are performed in specially designed test devices; devices which are equipped with modern drive systems and sensors and automatically acquire data in order to provide you with meaningful results.
These modern methods of characterisation are available to you
Of course, for the purposes of validation we also avail of standard methods to characterise your SMA component: Being an innovative materials engineering company, we avail of the most modern methods for characterizing material and surfaces: In the spectrum of devices for mechanical, thermal and thermomechanical analysis, (temperature-controlled) tensile tests, measurements of hardness, nanoindentation or also DSC (Dynamic Scanning Calorimetry) provide you with meaningful results.
Like with most metallic materials, your SMA can also be assessed by performing microscopic investigation on our premises. For this, the results of light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy or – in rare exceptions – of transmission electron microscopy may prove beneficial to your development. In addition, you can avail of various chemical analyses which may be employed in order to determine the purity of your melts. For example, the carbon, oxygen or hydrogen content of your requested SMA is determined to ensure reproducible quality.
As you can see: From standard processes through to validating and testing devices specially designed for you: Around your solution based on SMA, you will receive results which represent the installed situation, just as if your component were used in field, in the best possible way. Do you have any other questions about how we run development projects? You may be amazed how fast and efficiently you can obtain a minimally functioning model or a functional prototype. Talk to us today: Find out your possibilities by discussing your project.