“The material is the machine” – the shape memory effect

Shape memory alloys (SMA) are understood to be metallic alloys, which can easily be deformed in the cold state and, through heating, again attain their “shape memory” state independently. In this case, the material generates high forces and covers the way to a previously defined shape. This effect is called shape memory effect.


Based on the shape memory effect, thermally activatable actuators with unsurpassed power density can be produced. Shape memory alloys are commercially available in the form of wires, sheets, foils and tubes. Nevertheless, the use of foils offers the advantage that force and travel range can be easily adjusted by means of geometrical adaptation, without, however, having to significantly compromise switching time.

memetis, in close cooperation with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), was able to build up a unique expertise and take a pioneering role in the production of miniature actuators based on SMA foils. To date, few institutions exist that carry out research beyond material production and have competences in simulation, structuring, packaging and characterization.