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This 0.012" 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 ~1.5A 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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Excellent material, when you play with it, it makes you realize why we live in the right era of science and how lucky we are to have access to something so exclusive, so magical !
Worked for me with 4 AA Alkaline Battery, the force is strong. While trying to program a new memory shape by tying the wire on a protoboard and run current through it, I burnt my finger !
The wire is shape is programmable by forcing the wire to stay into a desired shape while running currents through it and let it cool down in that shape.