Perhaps there is an application here in male enhancement. Not that I need it. Or make car bodies and structure such that, after a collision, the car springs back to its original shape by the application of electricity. The fantasy is that a laptop computer can be made to fit in your pocket. The reality, as Alex points out, lends itself in the short term to, toys, robotics, micro-actuators, and radio controlled models.
Shape-memory actuators for space applications continue to be a hot topic. Although calculations vary, it's been said that it may cost around $10,000 per pound to put something in low Earth orbit. That being the case, anything that can take weight out of actuation systems (for example, to deploy solar arrays) has a high value. There is a company in Colorado called CTD which has done some interesting work with shape memory polymers for this type of application.
I think it will be a while before the cost of this technology reaches the point where it will make sense to use it in consumer-oriented applications. The advanced concepts described in this article are not likely to be realized next week or next year.
However, it's good for design engineers to educate themselves about these materials now, so that when they become more readily available, engineers can take advantage of their unique properties. Shape memory materials can open all kinds of interesting design opportunities, some of which can barely even be imagined now.
Very interesting. Thank you for the story. Some years back i worked on the metal with thermal memory. NASA had use it to pre-orient some tools in a specific shape and then upon use in space, expose them to certain temperature and resape them into a useful shape.
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