The high energy density actuation potential of SMA wire is tempered by conservative design guidelines set to mitigate complex factors such as functional fatigue (shakedown). Shakedown causes problems of stroke loss and interface position drift between the system and the SMA wire under higher stress levels if the wire does not undergo a pre-installation shakedown procedure. Limiting actuation strain has been reported as reducing shakedown as well as increasing fatigue life. One approach to limit actuation strain is using a mechanical strain limiter which sets a fixed Martensite strain position — useful for the development of in-device shakedown procedures which eliminates time consuming pre-installation shakedown procedures. This paper presents a new graphical design approach for SMA wire actuators which accounts for shakedown with the use of mechanical strain limiters to enable higher stress designs to maximize actuator performance. Experimental data on the effect of strain limiters along with stroke and work density contours form the basis for the new graphical design method. For each independent mechanical strain limiter, the maximum of the individual post-shakedown austenite curves at a range of applied stress are combined into a conglomerate stabilization design curve. These curves over a set of mechanical strain limiters provide steady state performance prediction for SMA actuation, effectively decoupling the shakedown material performance from design variables that affect the shakedown. The use and benefits of this new design approach are demonstrated with a common constant force actuator design example. This new design approach, which accounts for shakedown, supports design of SMA actuators at higher stresses with more economical use of material/power, and enables the utilization of strain limiters for cost saving in-device shakedown procedures.

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