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The term shape memory alloys (SMAs) refers to the group of metallic materials that demonstrate the ability to return to some previously defined shape or size when subjected to the appropriate thermal procedure. Materials that exhibit shape memory only upon heating are referred to as having a one-way shape memory. Some materials also undergo a change in shape upon recooling. These materials have a two-way shape memory. This article discusses the general characteristics of SMAs by using typical transformation versus temperature curve. It describes the processing, applications and properties (mechanical and physical) of commercial SMA alloys, namely nickel-titanium alloys and copper-base alloys.

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