Shape memory alloys (SMAs) belong to the group of functional materials that can be thermally activated. After plastic deformation, they can remember any previously imprinted shape and reveal large actuating forces. This is attractive for actuator applications as well as for connecting elements.

The increasing complexity of products makes their disassembly and recycling more difficult. Due to limited resources and legal requirements regarding environmental protection and the disposal of material, it is increasingly important for companies to recycle their products efficiently. SMA-based connecting elements are an innovative approach that can help companies to make their recycling processes more efficient by automating it.

As a starting point, traditional connection elements are evaluated regarding economical and technical performance indicators. To prove the advantages of SMA-based connecting elements, they are discussed using the example of a roof edge profile. The existing solution is analyzed with special emphasis on recyclability and disassembly. An alternative connection element made of shape memory alloys is designed, manufactured and tested. The results are compared with existing solutions with respect to time, costs and recyclability.

Finally, an overview of possible applications for the SMA-based connecting elements is given. Further studies should also investigate the applicability for maintenance processes and the substitutability of shape memory alloys connection elements to other traditional solutions, for example welded connections.

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