Thursday, May 19, 2022

Re: “muscle wire”

Steve’s Account

> Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 08:12:52 PDT

> From: zach harvey

> Subject: muscle wire


> I’m a student of prosthetics and orthotics at UT-Southwestern, and I’m

> working on my senior project. My idea is to use a commercially available

> material called “muscle wire” in an upper extremity prosthesis. Muscle wire

> is a type of shape-memory-alloy that shortens when electricity is passed

> through it. I’m presently gathering research information and would

> appreciate input from anyone concerning muscle wire or similar projects.

> Thanks in advance, Zach Harvey


The material you are probably looking for is called nitinol.

The material is formed into a wire spring. When an electric current is

passed thru the wire it heats up. As it heats the material moves from

one crystal state to another. If a nitinol “spring” is deformed while

cool, and then heated, it will increase its force to return to its original


The force is only “applied” while the material is in its “hot” state. The

power requirements to “maintain” a force are pretty high.. The likelihood

of being able to haul the batteries necessary to generate much power is

quite small.

It’s interesting stuff.. but with limited application. Take a look at

some of the “micro” robots that are available as kits if you’d like to

experiment with it.



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