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Low-Cost Linear Actuators Use ÒMemoryÓ To Replace Small Motors

Manufactured using shape memory alloys (SMA), a class of materials developed about 50 years ago by Raychem, NanoMuscle Actuators are designed to replace traditional small motors and solenoids in consumer electronics, computer peripherals, medical devices, robotic toys, and a host of other products. And they reportedly can accomplish this with devices that are 1/10 the size and 1/20 the cost of small motors. The new linear actuators are completely silent, too. Unlike conventional motors that use electromagnetism as their source of motion, NanoMuscles use SMA fashioned into tiny wires that produce movement when electricity is passed through them. The actuators use a built-in microprocessor to precisely control the flow of current to and thereby the speed of contraction of the SMA wires. A return force, such as a spring, is required to bring the actuator back to its initial configuration. NanoMuscle linear actuators come in 5V at 265 mA high-speed and 4V at 210 mA high-efficiency versions and have a rated load spec of 30 grams, a stroke of 4.0 mm, a weight of 1.1 grams, and a life of one million cycles. In volume quantities, the devices are expected to cost about $1 each. For more details, contact Rod MacGregor at NANOMUSCLE INC., Antioch, CA. (925) 776-4700.


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