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“Shape memory” materials are so named because they can be deformed, then restored to their earlier shape by changing external conditions, commonly temperature. Though metallic shape memory materials (aka “shape memory alloys,” “smart metals,” and “memory metals,” among others) are best known, many plastics also exhibit shape memory effects. Formed into wires, shape memory alloys make for effective lightweight actuators that can be heated resistively, simply by running current through the wire itself. So-called “muscle wire” actuators find their way into robots, cameraphones, cars, aircraft, and medical and dental devices.


#5


Living glass with shape memory alloy


#4

Embedded book prototype


#3

Origami Crane Flaps its Wings With Memory Alloy


#2

The Lumen, a physical 3D display


#1

Muscle wire plants come to life when you breathe on them

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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