Nitinol Memory Metal

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nitinol memory metal consists of equal parts of nickel and titanium. The resulting alloy is a remarkable solid-state material with unique and unusual properties including shape memory and super elasticity.

Shape Memory

In the equiatomic, spherical crystal structure of the Ni-Ti compound (see Figure 2(a)), at room temperature, the atoms are arranged in an orderly manner in the BCC structure (austenite). At low temperatures, the atoms become deformed and transform to a monoclinic distorted martensite phase. This is the phase which can recover its original shape when subjected to heat.

Super Elasticity

When deformed at a narrow temperature range just above the transformation temperatures, the material exhibits super elasticity. This provides a springy, rubberlike elasticity that can be up to 30 times the elasticity of an ordinary metal.

Tensile Testing

Nitinol is tested according to ASTM F2516, a cyclic test that simulates the loading and unloading of the material under stress. Upper plateau strength, lower plateau strength and residual elongation are recorded as well as the ultimate tensile strength.

Nitinol is a versatile material that can be used for many applications and devices that are typically made from stainless steel. It is a popular choice for guidewires, catheter tubes, stone retrieval baskets and filters. It is also used in stents, especially for peripheral vascular applications. Its kink resistance makes it useful for the tortuous vessel pathways of these blood vessels. Its biocompatibility and superelasticity make it useful in a wide variety of medical applications.