Infoscience

Journal article

Shape memory alloy flexures

Flexures are used in precision engineering where highly accurate, wear-free, smooth and repeatable motion is desired. Flexures are based on deformation of material to achieve a motion between elastically joined parts. They are used in a variety of precision mechanisms such as high-resolution balances or high accuracy optical positioning stages. Shape memory alloys (SMA) are an attractive option in designing flexures. Superelastic flexures can withstand larger deformations for the same weight as a conventional flexure. In addition, the damping properties of SMA, controllable through the phase transformation, offer new design opportunities for adaptive compliant mechanisms. The martensitic phase transformation can also be used to shift the natural frequency of flexures adding useful functionalities such as vibration rejection. This paper presents design principles of SMA flexures based on non-linear beam theory. Results show a good agreement between measured and predicted data. In addition, experimental results on phase transformation effects on damping behavior are also presented. Both, natural-frequency shift and increased damping were observed in bulk-micro machined flexures using the R-phase transformation. These results demonstrate the feasibility of natural-frequency-tunable flexures.

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