Superelastic Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) are typically used in applications where the martensitic phase transformation is exploited for its reversible, large deformation such as medical applications (e.g. stents).

In this work, we focus on the mechanical and thermal behavior of a Nickel-Titanium SMA strip in bending mode. One possible application of this mode is to provide a restoring force when used in joints of SMA wire actuator systems making the need for an antagonistic SMA actuator redundant. In these applications mentioned above, typically only the mechanical properties are of interest while the temperature is considered constant, even though the martensitic phase transformation in SMA is a thermo-mechanically coupled process.

As a part of the DFG (German Research Association) Priority Programme SPP1599 “Ferroic Cooling” which aims at advancing the development of solid state cooling devices, we have an equally large interest for the thermal evolution of Nickel-Titanium SMA during deformation and its induced phase transformation.

In this paper we investigate the thermal and the mechanical response of a SMA beam during bending experiments in which the deformation is induced by holding one end of a SMA strip fixed while the other end is subject to a prescribed deflection. Sensors and high speed thermal cameras are used to capture reaction forces, deformations and temperature changes. We compare these experimental results with numerical simulation results obtained from Finite Element simulations where a thermo-mechanically coupled SMA model is implemented into a finite deformation framework.

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