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1. WO2007009093 - TUBULAR COMPLIANT SHAPE MEMORY ALLOY ACTUATORS

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CLAIMS
What is claimed is:
1. A tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, comprising:
a. a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy having a first end, a second end 5 and a middle portion, wherein said middle portion is formed into an actuator pattern that maintains unity and electrical continuity along the path of said actuator pattern with said first end and said second end of said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and
b. at least one electrode formed in said first end or said second end.
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2. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 1, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

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3. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 1, wherein said first end, said second end and said middle portion are of generally partial- tubular shape.

4. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 1, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern or a zigzag pattern.

5. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 1, wherein said first electrode and said second electrode are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

6. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 1, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi5 CuAl, CuZnAl, TiV, and TiNb.

7. A tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, comprising:
a. a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy having a first end, a second end and a middle portion, wherein said first end is segmented, and wherein said middle portion is formed in a plurality of actuator patterns that maintain unity and electrical continuity along the paths of said actuator patterns with each said segmented first end and said second end of said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and
b. forming at least one electrode in each said segment of said first end; and c. optionally forming an electrode in said second end.

8. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

9. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said segmented first end is of generally partial-tubular shape.

10. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said second end is of generally tubular shape having an open span.

11. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said second end is of generally tubular shape.

12. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern or a zigzag pattern.

13. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said first electrode and said second electrode are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

14. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 7, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi, CuAl, CuZnAl, TiV, and TiNb.

15. A tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, comprising;
a. a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy having a first end, a second end and a middle portion, wherein said first end, said second end and said middle portion have an electrical resistance and a mechanical stiffness;
b. a plurality of support bands sequentially formed about said middle portion of said a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy, wherein said support band has a support band first edge and a support band second edge;
c. a plurality of actuator patterns formed in said middle portion, wherein said actuator pattern has an actuator pattern first end connected to said support band first edge and an actuator pattern second end connected to an actuator pattern electrode, where said actuator pattern electrode is detached from said middle portion;
d. a plurality of bending elements formed in said middle portion, wherein said bending elements have a bending element first end attached to said support band first edge and a bending element second end attached to an adjacent said support band second edge;
e. an electrode formed in said first end or in said second end of said monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and
f. an electrode formed in said actuator pattern second end, wherein electrical continuity exists along said middle portion from said actuator pattern second end to said first end or said second end.

16. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said actuator pattern is formed to have a higher electrical resistance relative to said electrical resistance of said middle portion;

17. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said bending elements are positioned about said tubular monolithic SMA actuator circumference and between said actuator patterns;

18. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said bending element is formed to have lower mechanical stiffness than said support band edge;

19. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said bending element is formed to have a lower electrical resistance relative to said electrical resistance of said actuator pattern;

20. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said electrodes are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

21. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

22. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern and a zigzag pattern.

23. The tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 15, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi, CuAl, CuZnAl, TiV, and TiNb.

24. A method of fabricating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, the method comprising:
a. providing a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy substrate having a first end, a second end and a middle portion;
b. forming an actuator pattern in said middle portion wherein said actuator pattern maintains unity and electrical continuity along the path of said actuator pattern with said first end and said second end of said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and
c. forming at least one electrode in said first end or said second end.

25. The method according to claim 24, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator is formed using fabrication methods comprising laser machining, electric discharge machining, mechanical machining, stamping, dicing and chemical etching.

26. The method according to claim 24, wherein said electrodes are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

27. The method according to claim 24, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

28. The method according to claim 24, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern and a zigzag pattern.
29. The method according to claim 24, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi, CuAl, CuZnAl, TiV, and TiNb.

30. A method of fabricating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, the method comprising:
a. providing a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy substrate having a first end, a second end and a middle portion;
b. segmenting said first end;
c. forming a pair of actuator patterns in said middle portion wherein said middle portion maintains unity and electrical continuity along the paths of said actuator patterns with each said segment of said first end and said second end of said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator;
d. forming at least one electrode in each said segment of said first end; and e. optionally forming an electrode in said second end.

31. The method according to claim 30, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator is formed using machining methods comprising laser machining, electric discharge machining, mechanical machining, stamping, dicing and chemical etching.

32. The method according to claim 30, wherein said electrodes are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

33. The method according to claim 30, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

34. The method according to claim 30, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern and a zigzag pattern.

35. The method according to claim 30, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi, CuAl,, CuZnAl, TiV, and TiNb.

36. A method of fabricating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, the method comprising:
a. providing a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy having a first end, a second end and a middle portion, wherein said first end, said second end and said middle portion have an electrical resistance and a mechanical stiffness;

b. forming a plurality of support bands sequentially about said middle portion of said a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy, wherein said support band has a support band first edge and a support band second edge;
c. forming a plurality of actuator patterns in said middle portion, wherein said actuator pattern has an actuator pattern first end connected to said support band first edge and an actuator pattern second end connected to an actuator pattern electrode, where said actuator pattern electrode is detached from said middle portion;
d. forming a plurality of bending elements in said middle portion, wherein said bending elements have a bending element first end attached to said support band first edge and a bending element second end attached to an adjacent said support band second edge;
e. forming an electrode in said first end or in said second end of said monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and
f. forming an actuator pattern electrode in said actuator pattern second end, wherein electrical continuity exists along said middle portion from said actuator pattern second end to said first end or said second end.

37. The method according to claim 36, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator is formed using fabrication methods comprising laser machining, electric discharge machining, mechanical machining, stamping, dicing and chemical etching.

38. The method according to claim 36, wherein said electrodes are made from said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy.

39. The method according to claim 36, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy has a cross-section shape comprising a circle, an ellipse, a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram and a polygon.

40. The method according to claim 36, wherein said actuator pattern comprises a generally Greek key pattern and a zigzag pattern.

41. The method according to claim 36, wherein said shape memory alloy comprises NiTi, CuAlNi, CuAl,, CuZnAl5 TiV, and TiNb.

42. A method of actuating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator, the method comprising:
a. providing a passive tubular body;
b. providing at least one tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator;
c. aligning said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuators along said passive tubular body;
d. independently activating said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator by supplying current to electrodes on said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator; and e. heating said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator with said supplied current, wherein said heat causes said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator and said passive tubular body to bend in desired a direction and to a desired degree.

43. The method of actuating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 41, wherein said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator envelopes a passive body having a generally tubular shape with a cross-section similar to said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator.

44. The method of actuating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 42, wherein said passive body is made from material comprising polymers, metal alloy and nitinol.

45. The method of actuating a tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator of claim 24, wherein said passive body has a lower mechanical stiffness than said tubular monolithic shape memory alloy actuator.