Characterization of Varied Geometry Shape Memory Alloy Beams Conference Paper uri icon


  • Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) have proven to be a lightweight, low cost alternative to conventional actuators for a number of commercial applications. Future applications will require a more complex shape changes and a detailed understanding of the performance of more complex SMA actuators is required. The purpose of this study is to validate engineering models and design practices for SMA beams of various configurations for future applications. Until now, SMA actuators have been fabricated into relatively simple beam shapes. Boeing is now fabricating beams with more complicated geometries in order to determine their strength and shape memory characteristics. These more complicated shapes will allow for lighter and more compact SMA actuators as well as provide more complex shape control. Some of the geometries evaluated include vertical and horizontal I-beams, sine wave and linear wave beams, a truss, and a beam perforated with circular holes along the length. A total of six beams were tested; each was a complex shape made from 57% Nickel by weight with the remainder composed of Titanium (57NiTi). Each sample was put through a number of characterization tests. These include a 3-point bend tests to determine force/displacement properties, and thermal cycling under a range of isobaric loads to determine actuator properties. Experimental results were then compared to modeled results. Test results for one representative beam were used to calibrate a 3-D constitutive model implemented in an finite element framework. It is shown that the calibrated analysis tool is accurate in predicting the response of the other beams. Finally, the actuation work capabilities of the beams are compared using a second round of finite element anaylysis. 2010 Copyright SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.

name of conference

  • Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies 2010

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Gravatt, L. M., Mabe, J. H., Calkins, F. T., & Hartl, D. J.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Gravatt, Lynn M||Mabe, James H||Calkins, Frederick T||Hartl, Darren J

editor list (cited editors)

  • McMickell, M. B., & Farinholt, K. M.

publication date

  • March 2010