Shape-memory alloy (SMA) wire is used in cost-effective solenoid-replacement components for commercial applications. The Autosplice solenoids can be effectively used as simple, low-mass, low-power alternatives to larger and more costly conventional solenoid designs. Nitinol is a family of intermetallic materials that contain a nearly equal mixture of nickel and titanium, with other elements added to adjust or "tune" the material properties. The intermetallic materials exhibit a combination of unique characteristics including shape memory and superelasticity that enable nitinol wire to actuate when electrically heated, dynamically changing the internal structure at certain temperatures. As the wire cools, it returns to its original structure or shape.
Building on SMA applications in medical and automotive, the company is now developing SMA-wire solenoid replacements in other small-solenoid applications. Wire solenoid advantages include compact actuation for smaller devices, lighter weight, higher reliability and repeatability over millions of actuations, better resistance to corrosion, cost control because the parts are not as susceptible to fluctuations in the price of copper, and actuation flexibility.