Shape memory alloys (SMA) are thermally activated smart materials. Due to their ability to change into a previously imprinted actual shape through the means of thermal activation, they are suitable as actuators for mechatronical systems. Despite of the advantages shape memory alloy actuators provide, these elements are only seldom integrated by engineers into mechatronical systems. Reasons are the complex characteristics, especially at different boundary conditions and the missing simulation- and design tools. Also the lack of knowledge and empirical data are a reason why development projects with shape memory actuators often lead to failures. Therefore, a need of developing methods, standardized testing of empirical properties and computer aided simulation tools is motivated. While computer-aided approaches have been discussed in further papers, as well as standardization potentials of SMA actuators, this paper focuses on a developing method for SMA actuators. The main part of the publication presents the logical steps which have to be passed, in order to develop an SMA actuator, considering several options like mechanical, thermal, and electrical options. As a result of the research work, the paper proves this method by one example in the field of SMA-valve technology.

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