Biometal: Robotic Muscle
November 24, 2004 10:53 PM   Subscribe

Made from a nickel-titanium alloy, and highly processed for electrical activation and long life, the thin black thread-like BioMetal acts as an artificial muscle. When powered, the BioMetal contracts. When power turns off, the BioMetal quickly cools and the wire extends again to its longer, starting length.
posted by zanpo (11 comments total)
Well, it's a good thing every MeFite is fluent in Japanese so he or she can appreciate the link, eh?

Only half-kidding. This is cool. Where do I sign up to become a cyborg?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:15 PM on November 24, 2004

Very very cool. They even have a few toys for sale.
posted by mexican at 11:29 PM on November 24, 2004

Video Library
posted by mexican at 11:31 PM on November 24, 2004

Ahh, nuts. No relation to the BioMetal from Battlezone II.

posted by Planter at 11:43 PM on November 24, 2004

Buy BioMetal and several other shape memory alloy products at the Robot Store.
posted by F Mackenzie at 11:53 PM on November 24, 2004

Some of those things in the robot store are cheap, the last one is only $10, that is pretty awesome. I wonder if they ship internationally. I would definitely buy something.
posted by litghost at 12:18 AM on November 25, 2004

I did some of the engineering on a robotic sculpture waaaay back in '96 that used this stuff as its motive source. It was a bitch to work with - high power consumption and a crazy current-contraction curve. But it made for some pretty seriously cool movement once we got it going!

Getting the wire to contract to a particular length, as opposed to fully contracted or fully extended was a serious bitch.

Here's some more info about the material.

(Warning - both links lead to pages that haven't been substantially updated since 1996. Wear your Netscape 3 goggles!)
posted by smeger at 1:50 AM on November 25, 2004

Shape memory alloys, particularly Nitinol (nickel-titanium), have been around since the sixties. They are quite popular in space technology, where they are used for the shock-free deployment of antennas and solar panels onboard satellites and probes.
However, their use as artificial muscles is not entirely straightforward, as that wikipedia article explains.
posted by Skeptic at 4:01 AM on November 25, 2004

litghost, the analogy used by your link is great. I'll be comparing everything to various types of baked goods from now on.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:31 AM on November 25, 2004

I'm sorry, the link was F Mackenzie's, not litghost's. Apologies to you both.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2004

Oddly enough, I had a dream last night where I was constructing something similar out of a lot of Peltier junctions and a bimetallic strip.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:22 AM on November 25, 2004

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