Systems based on shape memory alloys and shape memory components
Are you looking for more than just semi-finished products or components? When taking components within a system into account, looking at the various interactions between the parts becomes crucial. We are happy to take on this tedious work on your behalf: Using entire systems and ready-made actuators based on SMA, forget about dealing with countless details and interactions. We will simply provide you with a functional system.
These systems in part are produced for you in cooperation with our project partners. Therefore, a wide range of SMA-based actuator systems now lie at your choice. These in particular are:
- adjusting systems
- clamping systems
- damping systems
What all systems have in common is that all you need to do is define the required function. No need to worry about how the actual alloy or component is designed and produced – we will do all the work for you.
What is installed in the systems
From other sections you may now be aware of the multitude of components with ever more flexible options regarding actuator systems. In the case of the actuator system, the suitable component is chosen for you, based on the functions and application areas that you may have already seen in the previous sections. As mentioned before, besides standard alloys it is also possible to implement your customer-specific requirements. To this end, actuator systems are available in a temperature range between -20°C to over 350°C [-4°F to 663°F], being the activation temperature of the actuator. These are briefly summarised below.
Wires with actuator properties
Wire material which can be used in your system covers all the alloys offered. From binary NiTi alloys to wires optimised against fatigue or high-strength ternary and quaternary alloys – each with their different properties.
Sheet and strip metal with actuator properties
SMA sheet elements are used in your system primarily as compact bending actuators. Systems with SMA sheet actuators are suitable for the purpose of providing high actuating forces where moderate actuating paths are required within small installation spaces. These systems are uniquely produced on a customer-specific basis from standard or special alloys. They are designed specifically for carrying out your required task within your specific application, taking working loads and functional behaviour into account.
Springs with actuator properties
Actuator springs are suitable for the use in a wide variety of systems. Particularly noteworthy are those systems in which high actuating paths are required with moderate forces but at the same time are confined to small space. Here also will you receive systems which work with customer-specific actuator springs, consisting of standard or specially tailored alloys. These systems also operate according to your pre-defined load and function, in order to carry out exactly the task which your system is designated to perform.
Advantages of systems with low levels of contamination / high levels of chemical purity
In addition to the aforementioned aspects, all alloys from Ingpuls exhibit a particularly high purity which is important for improving the properties of your system. Thereby at Ingpuls you will only receive systems based on shape memory alloys which are significantly superior to those based on the standard material usually offered on the market – in particular with regard to the actuator properties and the service life of your system.
Control of the actuator systems based on SMA
In some actuator systems, the shape memory alloy actuator elements contained within may be activated by resistance heating. In order to control this process, our base module EMS can be employed as an electronic management system. Depending on the requirements of your respective application, it is adapted to both your hardware and software. Adjustments may concern the architecture of the board or the interfaces of the electronics, if necessary. This allows you to integrate the EMS seamlessly into higher level systems and assemblies. The system further ensures that the power is supplied as required, guaranteeing that the actuator system is only used up to its maximum temperature. This dramatically increases the achievable lifespan of your system.
The electronic management system (EMS) is used in order to enable a comfortable and safe use of your SMA-based system. Not only does the EMS ensure protection from overheating, it also provides the control, regulation and integrated system diagnosis of your actuator system. To this end, you not only ensure an adaptive and demand-based power supply: The EMS also allows you to perform position control of the actuating systems, with the option of digital, discrete or continuous control. In addition, the EMS module can effortlessly be integrated into your overall technical systems.
What you can achieve with an SMA-based actuating system
Using an SMA-based actuating system which utilises the EMS, you are able to move to specific positions and switch to continuous. This implies that you can not only implement on/off inputs but also can achieve any desired position. Thereby, various sensor functions are covered.
The main thing is: By correctly defining the system’s boundaries your requirements are implemented within a black box “system”. In other words, you don’t need to waste precious time and energy on the details of the shape memory alloy system but instead can focus solely on its required function.
Why you should and how you can find out more about shape memory alloy systems
We know from past experience that most interested parties only begin to form ideas about the possibilities of SMA once they have built a basic understanding of the subject matter. Therefore, more and more customers tend to purchase complete systems based on shape memory alloys. These perform the task they defined without them having to understand every single aspect of the design and the components used.
In order to gain a basic understanding of SMA you don’t need to know about the intricacies of systems development. Why not take your first step towards understanding the technology by obtaining our introductory SMA set? It contains 10 different SMA components and will allow you to collect first practical experiences in handling SMA. The introductory set contains wires, springs, sheet strips and moulded parts made from superelastic NiTi (Af<20°) and actuator material (As>50°C). You will get to know the various features of the shape memory effect as well its different functional principles through playful interaction. This will usually send immature enquiries and will open your eyes to an entirely new world of possibilities.
If you are able to understand the basic properties of components based on shape memory alloys, you will also be able to get a feeling for the complexity discovering the complexity which is hidden in any system based on shape memory alloys. You will appreciate that as early on as during the design process of the components it is necessary to take into account a large number of interactions. A system then quickly reaches a multidimensional level of complexity. Therefore, customers who purchase SMA based systems at Ingpuls by and large prefer to leave the development of the systems entirely up to us. Applying such an SMA based system, all you do is purchasing the solution to your problem, including electronic control and regulation parameters, without having to define every single step yourself. It is somewhat like buying an iPhone: You don’t have to deal with semiconductor technology only to make sure you will be able to make calls later.
Installation of your system and further scope of performance
In general, potential clients approach us because they are searching for a solution to a task or want to significantly improve an existing one. As you will have noted from previous chapters, at Ingpuls you will benefit from being provided with a real solution by addresses your individual requirements. So not only do can you receive individual alloys, components or systems: You will receive the pre-assembled modules of your systems, or even your entire and readily assembled actuator system at your doorstep.
Your benefit is the ability to purchase complete and ready-to-use systems based on SMA. These will meet your requirements for your desired installation space and achieve your required actuating forces and paths, while they can be controlled and regulated within your sytem’s landscape. And this is exactly the reason why you won’t be able to find a standard catalogue for our SMA systems. Your benefit then lies not only in the design of systems with shape memory actuators, but also in testing. You can learn more about this in the following section Development.
Your added value apart from the shape memory alloy technical advantages
At Ingpuls, we offer you a large number of options to implement your customer-specific actuator system based on shape memory alloys. Your added value is that you can focus on your required specification of your system’s functions. At the same time you will automatically benefit from our deep understanding of shape memory alloys, making it possible to provide you with tailor-made solutions: From the wholistic control of the shape memory alloy value and process chain through to the installation of SMA-based systems. This way, your shape memory alloy components will actually perform the task previously defined in your requirements. This – among others – allows you to save costs, weight, noise emissions, complexity etc.
Letting us know about your requirements for your SMA system
When dealing with systems based on SMA, it is absolutely necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of your requirements. Even when you may think that the role of Ingpuls lies in performing the alloy development and the component design the SMA parts installed in your system: There are many more interactions to consider, making it necessary to understand all of your requirements down to the smallest detail. For example, with SMA, the operating condition or situation of installation have a greater influence on the functional integrity of your system than ordinarily. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you complete and forward your requirements to us in a pre-defined manner.
For documenting and forwarding your requirements, please make use our standardised query process. This ensures that:
- you will significantly reduce the response time to your inquiry
- you will receive a qualified answer in all cases: Even if it turns out that your requirements may not be met by using SMA
- you can ensure the integrity of your data.
- you may receive a solution which corresponds fully with your requirements
Generally, you will be given the option of signing a non-disclosure agreement on point of contact. And at the same time, you will normally receive the questionnaire regarding your technical requirements. We hope you found our sections about semi-finished products, components and systems based on NiTi-SMA informative. We also support our customers in the development and testing phases. Learn more about your options in product development – prototyping, validation and testing (section Development).