This paper analyses the Rolamite architecture exploiting shape memory alloys as power element to obtain a solid state actuator. The Rolamite mechanism was discovered in the late sixties, initially as precision and low friction linear bearing. The most common Rolamite configuration consists of a flexible thin metal strip and two rollers mounted between two fixed parallel guide surfaces. The system can roll back and forth without slipping guided by the plates along its so called sensing axis. The system presents another relevant advantage in addition to low friction coefficient, which is the possibility to provide force generation in a quite simple way. In the original literature works the force was provided thanks to cutouts of various shape in the strip, though this method does not allow the Rolamite to be considered a proper actuator, but only a force generator. In this paper we developed the idea of exploiting the shape memory alloy as Rolamite power element and therefore to use the shape memory effect to change the elastic properties of the strip and to provide the actuation force. The mechanical analyses and the equations where the martensite-austenite transition is modelled in a simplified way, show that this application is feasible, mainly thanks to the initial precurvature of the SMA strip. The discussion of the results highlights some important merits of this architecture such as long stroke, constant force and compactness.

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