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Shape Memory Alloy Springs Used as Reduced Power/Weight Actuators

[+] Author Affiliations
Gareth Knowles, Ross Bird

QorTek, Inc.

Victor Birman

University of Missouri at Rolla

Paper No. IMECE2004-60401, pp. 17-25; 9 pages
  • ASME 2004 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Aerospace
  • Anaheim, California, USA, November 13 – 19, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Aerospace Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4700-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-4178-2, 0-7918-4179-0, 0-7918-4180-4
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


The paper presents a concept and realization of using shape memory alloy (SMA) spring actuators for deployment of flight control surfaces of small air vehicles. These actuators replace heavy servomotors resulting in increased endurance of the vehicle as well as reduced power consumption. The actuator represents a spiral wound tubular SMA helical spring that is extended in its martensitic phase prior to actuation. The actuation can be achieved by directing exhaust gas from the onboard engine, i.e. providing an influx of heat. When activated, the spring returns to its original (compressed) shape generating a force in the range of 10 to 25 lbf. The advantage of using SMA springs is related to the enhanced stiffness after activation, as the material transforms from the martensitic to austenitic phase. Such added rigidity is useful to deploy telescoping wing surfaces and implement extensive geometric airframe changes. Numerical examples conducted with a typical spring material and geometry illustrated that the required stroke can be achieved with the spring index of about 10, coil diameter of 2.5 inches and SMA diameter in the range from 0.14 to 0.24 inches. Experimental data confirms these numerical predictions. The present study has proven the feasibility of using SMA actuators for the deployment of wing surfaces of small air vehicles.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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