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Publication Date: 08/1/2007
Archive >  August 2007 Issue >  Product Preview: ATExpo & IPC MW > 

Autosplice: Low-Cost SMA Wire Solenoids
San Diego, CA — Autosplice has developed new cost-effective solenoid-replacement designs for commercial applications using Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) wire. SMA wire, made from nickel titanium materials are used in solenoids that can be effectively used as simple, low-mass, low-power, low-cost alternatives to larger and more costly conventional solenoid designs.

Nitinol is a family of intermetallic materials that contain a nearly equal mixture of nickel and titanium, with other elements added to adjust or "tune" the material's properties. Nitinol exhibits a combination of unique characteristics including "Shape Memory" and "Superelasticity" that enable nitinol wire to actuate when electrically heated, dynamically changing the internal structure at certain temperatures. As the wire cools it returns to its original structure or shape.

Solenoids used in the commercial irrigation market have recently gone through significant cost increases due to fluctuations in world copper prices. In addition, the water used in many larger irrigation projects is becoming increasingly corrosive which dramatically reduces the capability and maintainability of current solenoid designs.

Key benefits of using SMA wire actuation: compact actuation for smaller devices such as compartment latches, sprinkler valves, vents etc.; lighter weight; higher reliability and repeatability over millions of actuations; better resistance to corrosion; lower-cost (no susceptibility to fluctuations in the price of copper); and improved flow control (actuation flexibility.

Another problem with standard solenoids is that actuation is very fast, with an immediate switch from "off" to "on". One consequence of this high actuation speed is "water hammer" in which the uncontrolled fast input of water under pressure can break joints in the water pipes. By contrast, the SMA wire solenoids actuate at a much slower pace, allowing a more controlled transition from "off" to "on" and thereby diffusing the impact of a lot of water going into the system at one time.

For more information, contact: Autosplice, Inc., 10121 Barnes Canyon Rd., San Diego, CA 92121 800-535-5538 or 858-535-0077 fax: 858-535-0130 E-mail: Web:

See at ATE Booth #6115.

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