This 0.005" Muscle Wire® (aka shape memory Nitinol) is a one foot long piece of nickel-titanium alloy that can flex and contract when a specific amount of heat or current is applied to it. If you are asking yourself "What sorcery is this?!" We assure you, this isn't magic, it's just simple science thanks to shape memory and a change between the wires weaker, low temperature form (martensitic) and its stronger, high temperature form (austenite).
When the Muscle Wire® is in its martensitic form, it can be formed and bent into different shapes. However, when an electrical current of ~200mA is applied to the wire, or is heated to ~100C it reverts to austenite form and recovers its previous shape with great force. Additionally, you can anneal at ~500C (use an industrial furnace or simply a lighter) it to whatever shape you would want, next once that current or heat is applied it will return to that new shape.
Note: The datasheet found below is for Flexinol® actuator wire, that isn't exactly like all Muscle Wire® but it's close. Flexinol® Actuators Wires are made specifically for linear actuators to replace small motors or solenoids.
If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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Can these be used to contract at very precise increments up to its maximum?
If I order three of these, to I get three pieces each 305mm long, or do I get one piece 915mm long?
They are precut, so you would get 3 individual pieces.
can we cut these 1 foot long pieces into smaller pieces
If I were to hook this up to a 9v battery, would it work?
They will work, but they drain your battery fast
Probably not. 9v batteries don't like to supply more than about 50mA, and this requires 200mA. Maybe if you cut it into 4ths, or possibly 5ths so a micro controller could run at the same time.
The buzz on the thicker wire is that they are pre-cut, so no.