Intelligent fasteners that contain electronics and shape-memory actuators may be the wave of the future. But how exactly do you incorporate this unfamiliar technology into your products? Textron Fastening Systems, the supplier of Intevia intelligent fasteners, has rolled out an evaluation kit that may provide some answers.
Available for $2,200, it includes everything you would need to develop an intelligent fastener — including interconnnects, power supply, a controller, a remote control transponder and all the necessary cables. The Intevia fastening system also has its own operating system that allows developers to integrate all these components.
The business-end of the kit, however, consists of the fastening mechanisms. According to Seshu Seshasai, Textron's executive vice president of technology, the kit has three representative fastening mechanisms that can function in real-world applications. These include an in-line mechanism for medium-load, high cycle applications like cabinet latches; a ring mechanism for medium-load, low-profile applications such as panel access; and a radial fastener for high-load applications such as seat-anchor for aerospace. The loads covered by these designs range from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds for the radial fastener.
What all three mechanisms share — along with other Intevia designs in the pipeline — is a reliance on electronically-controlled shape-memory alloys to engage and disengage the fastening mechanisms.
Seshasai says intelligent fastening offers remote activation and space-efficiency. These fasteners can go into areas that lack the access needed to install traditional fasteners or operate conventional access hardware components. The fasteners can also be "reversible," enabling easier disassembly for revisions, repairs or end-of-life recycling. Finally, Intevia electro-mechanical fasteners, because their operating system is compatible with many plant-wide automation systems, can use their "smarts" for jobs such as access control, data logging and more.
Introduced two years ago, Intevia fasteners are just getting off the ground right now. McCarthy Interiors Ltd., the first customer for the technology and a specialist in commercial aircraft interiors, is now flight testing Intevia latches that replace solenoid-based electro-mechanical latches. The earlier latches weighed more than twice as much, were noisier and took up more than twice the space, says Seshasai.
Other applications are in the works, not just in aerospace but also in industrial, appliance, automotive and other uses. "We think intelligent fastening will change the way people think about fasteners," Seshasai says.
For more information on Intevia or to order the evaluation kit, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4935-535.