vb.net barcode reader BUILDING ROBOTS WITH SHAPE-MEMORY ALLOY in Software

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FIGURE 23.10 A preliminary design for a robot based on the tri-star wheel arrangement. a. Side view of the robot; b. Top view of the robot showing the one drive motor and the central steering motor.
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effort to exactly control the contraction and relaxation. But because of the molecular construction of Nitinol, hot spots develop along the length of the metal, causing early fatigue and breakage. In 1985, a Japanese company, Toki Corp., unveiled a new type of shape-memory alloy specially designed to be activated by electrical current. Toki s unique SMA material, tradenamed BioMetal, offers all of the versatility of the original Nitinol, with the added benefit of near instant electrical actuation. BioMetal and materials like it Muscle Wire from Mondo-Tronics or Flexinol from Dynalloy have many uses in robotics, including novel locomotive actuation. From here on out we ll refer to this family of materials generically as shape-memory alloy, or simply SMA.
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At its most basic level, SMA is a strand of nickel titanium alloy wire. Though the material may be very thin (a typical thickness is 0.15 mm slightly wider than a strand of human hair) it is exceptionally strong. In fact, the tensile strength of SMA rivals that of stainless steel: the breaking point of the slender wire is a whopping six pounds. Even under this much weight, SMA stretches little. In addition to its strength, SMA also shares the corrosion-resistance of stainless steel. Shape memory alloys change their internal crystal structure when exposed to certain higher-than-normal temperatures (this includes the induced temperatures caused by passing an electrical current through the wire). The structure changes again when the alloy is allowed to cool. More specifically, during manufacture the SMA wire is heated to a very high temperature, which embosses or memorizes a certain crystal structure. The wire is then cooled and stretched to its practical limits. When the wire is reheated, it contracts because it is returning to the memorized state. Although most SMA strands are straight, the material can also be manufactured in spring form, usually as an expansion spring. In its normal state, the spring exerts minimum tension, but when current is applied the spring stiffens, exerting greater tension. Used in this fashion, SMAs become an active spring that can adjust itself to a particular load, pressure, or weight. Shape memory alloys have an electrical resistance of about one ohm per inch. That s more than ordinary hookup wire, so SMAs will heat up more rapidly when an electrical current is passed through them. The more current passes through, the hotter the wire becomes and the more contracted the strand. Under normal conditions, a two- to three-inch length of SMA is actuated with a current of about 450 milliamps. That creates an internally generated temperature of about 100 130 C; 90 C is required to achieve the shapememory change. Most SMAs can be manufactured to change shape at most any temperature, but 90 C is the standard value for off-the-shelf material. Excessive current should be avoided. Why Extra current causes the wire to overheat, which can greatly degrade its shape-memory characteristics. For best results, current should be as low as necessary to achieve the contraction desired. Shape memory alloys will contract by 2 to 4 percent of their length, depending on the amount of current applied. The maximum contraction of typical SMA material is 8 percent, but that requires heavy current that can, over a period of just a few seconds, damage the wire.
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Shape memory alloys need little support paraphernalia. Besides the wire itself, you need some type of terminating system, a bias force, and an actuating circuit. We ll discuss each of these in the following sections.
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