Activ-lab is a laboratory focused on SMA-actuated applications development and testing, but also devoted to other actuation types. The laboratory is equipped with a Z+ 20-10 power supply (Figure 1) by TDK-Lambda, an EA-PS 3016-20 B power supply (Figure 2) by EA Elektro-Automatik GmbH & Co., and with a high performance 6 ½ digits precision multimeter (Figure 3), model Agilent 34401A (Agilent Technologies).


Fig. 1: Z+ 20-10 power supply


Fig. 2: EA-PS 3016-20 B power supply


Fig. 3: Agilent 34401A 6 ½ digits precision multimeter

In the Activ-lab, the characterization of SMA actuators is performed in order to find the best solution for each considered application. For this purpose, testing benchmarks for SMA wires and springs have been developed (Figure 4 and 5), in order to characterize them as electrically powered actuators. One of the activities performed in the active-lab is the investigation of the shape memory alloys self-sensing phenomenon, i.e. the capability of such alloys to act as an actuator and a sensor at the same time. In Figure 4 is reported the testing setup for shape memory alloy wire and spring actuators, and in Figure 5 a plot is reported about the relationship between actuation and electrical resistance variation of a Nitinol wire.


Fig. 4: Testing setup


Fig. 5: Contraction of the Nitinol wire versus its electrical resistance variation

Activ-lab is currently used for the development of actuators in the field of neurorehabilitation robotics, thanks to the cooperation with Fondazione Istituto Maugeri.


Fig. 6: Experimental equipment for the research activity in the field of neurorehabilitation robotics