muscle wire workshop

Muscle wire or “shape memory alloy wire” is a metal alloy that has some really interesting properties. When heated this material will flex back into the shape that it was first set in.  In this workshop we will learn how to use muscle wire to create small light solid state actuators that can be controlled by the arduino.

There are many different ways that muscle wire can provide movement; as a pulley, wound into a spring that contracts and expands but we will focus on using muscle wire as a material that will straighten lifting a small weight when powered and “flop” when not powered (see vid) . The advantages of using muscle wire in this way are that; we can create a large movement of light materials without precise engineering of pulleys etc and that the movement itself has a very organic and non mechanical feel to it.

We will provide you with the materials and tools needed to make small muscle wire actuated paper devices including pre crimped muscle wire and arduino code to make your muscle wire move but not burn.

During Tuesday’s and Thursday’s class you will work in teams of two to create small muscle wire actuated devices. Each device must use at least one sensor and one wire for actuation but can use more.

You will be able to make anything that you decide on as a team. It would best to keep it small, think small desktop pet, lamp etc.

SMA_PWM function:
Arduino Sketch: SMA_PWM

muscle Wire actuated sleeping box:


2 comments so far

  1. […] References/Inspiration Wind up toys we played with in class Yellow Drum Machine robot Knock detecting tutorial Kikkerland wind-up toys Muscle wire sleeping box […]

  2. tom on

    couldn’t download the sketch (err 403). Could you repost it? It’d be awesome to see the circuit schematics too…


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