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Laboratory-scale processing and performance assessment of Ti–Ta high-temperature shape memory spring actuators
Ti75Ta25 high-temperature shape memory alloys exhibit a number of features which make it difficult to use them as spring actuators. These include the high melting point of Ta (close to 3000 °C), the affinity of Ti to oxygen which leads to the formation of brittle α-case layers and the tendency to precipitate the ω-phase, which suppresses the martensitic transformation. The present work represents a case study which shows how one can overcome these issues and manufacture high quality Ti75Ta25 tensile spring actuators. The work focusses on processing (arc melting, arc welding, wire drawing, surface treatments and actuator spring geometry setting) and on cyclic actuator testing. It is shown how one can minimize the detrimental effect of ω-phase formation and ensure stable high-temperature actuation by fast heating and cooling and by intermediate rejuvenation anneals. The results are discussed on the basis of fundamental Ti–Ta metallurgy and in the light of Ni–Ti spring actuator performance.