Process of Establishment of Association of Shape Memory Alloy (ASMA), Present Situation and Issues
This association was inaugurated in 1993, and the present author became the first president, served for 12 years and retired this March. I would like to take this opportunity to put pen to paper about the above title because I want new members to know the background and present situation of this association and to make efforts towards the continuing development of this association.
Ti-Ni shape memory alloy was discovered in the US Naval Ordnance Laboratory in 1963 and some patent applications were immediately filed for methods of application in the United States and the Netherlands, but they didn’t successfully lead to practical application.
However, Raychem Corporation (USA) commercialized pipe couplings made of Ti-Ni shape memory alloy in the 1970s, which was applied to hydraulic oil pipes in the F-14 fighter plane, therefore Ti-Ni shape memory alloys were introduced to mass-production. At that time, Professor Otsuka(note 1) and the present author revealed the mechanism of the shape memory effect and clarified the necessary conditions shape memory alloys should fulfill, following this, other shape memory alloys, such as Cu alloys were discovered.
In 1975, the first international symposium on shape memory alloys was held in Toronto, Canada. The patents of Ti-Ni shape memory alloys expired in the early 1980s, which led to the opening up of the development of the materials and their application methods at a worldwide level. In Japan, two private organizations herein after mentioned (one of them is a semi-private organization) were formed, and the ASMA was established by combining them. The subsequent active researches on fundamentals and application of shape memory alloys were carried out with enormous achievements.
(note 1) Professor Emeritus at Tsukuba University, regular member of ASMA
(1) Osaka Science & Technology Center, Development of Shape Memory Alloy Application Committee and Shape Memory Alloy Division
Under the circumstances of the development mentioned above in the 1960s-1970s, the "Development of Shape Memory Alloy Application Committee"(note 2) was formed in the Osaka Science & Technology Center. Assisted by the new materials boom, industry-academic-government collaboration started to research the situation of the development of shape memory alloys and their applications, methods of evaluation, the issues concerned with the development for alloys and applications and, furthermore, the framework of the development. As a result, they arrived at the conclusion that first of all there should be standardization of technical terms on shape memory alloys in academic and technical fields, and of the methods of measurement of martensitic transformation temperatures.
After a while, the effects of the standardization of the methods of tests and evaluations in new materials, including many other alloys, were required first to promote their applications. The New Material Center(note 3) was formed within the Osaka Science & Technology Center, commissioned by the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in order to research the standardization. Within the center, the "Investigative Committee for Standardization of Tests and Evaluation Methods of New Materials for Alternative Power to Oil"(note 4) was formed. The Shape Memory Alloy Division(note 5) was formed as a subordinate organization. Therefore, "Development of Shape Memory Alloy Application Committee", which worked in advance of the organizations, was constructively dissolved, and the Shape Memory Alloy Division took over the mission and further developed the research for the standardization of test and evaluation methods.
The research in this "Shape Memory Alloy Division" was carried out for 6 years and test and evaluation methods in 6 items were standardized. They were standardized as JIS H7001, JIS H7101, JIS H7003, JIS H7004, JIS H7005 and JIS H7006 after deliberation in Japanese Industrial Standards Committee. The first 2 items were based on the research in "Development of Shape Memory Alloy Application Committee" and the last 4 items were based on that in the "Shape Memory Alloy Division". The research for 11 years since 1992 was not only for the standardization of the test and evaluation methods in shape memory alloys but attracted attention on the application methods, with more activities in research and development than before.
(note 2) Chairperson: Professor Yotaro Murakami, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University
(note 3) Director: Professor Yotaro Murakami, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University
(note 4) Chairperson: Professor Ryohei Tanaka, Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Institute of Technology
(note 5) Chairperson: Professor Ken’ichi Shimizu
(2) Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloy
On the other hand, companies work actively for the development of materials and applications of shape memory alloys as objects of industrial application. In 1983, 6 companies manufacturing shape memory alloys(note 6) set up the "Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloy". They were supported by the Grant-in-Aids for the Research and Development of Industrial Vitalization Technology from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and promoted the research and development of shape memory alloys.
At that time, the trend toward the application developments of shape memory alloys was gaining momentum in many industrial fields. The technologies in design and manufacture of shape memory alloys or elements like coil springs progressed remarkably, and based on the technologies, shape memory alloys were applied practically to flaps for air direction adjustment in air conditioners, temperature sensors of coffee makers, pressure regulators of rice cookers, temperature sensors of water purifiers and so on.
The Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloys operated as a grant-aided project of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry until 1986 and on its own until 1993. Their activities included manufacturing technology and the development of materials and applications, which resulted in numerous accomplishments and built up the basis of shape memory alloy technologies in Japan. Therefore, the association achieved its original goal and was dissolved in May 1993. During that decade, 4 of the founding companies participated in the above mentioned the Development of Shape Memory Alloy Application Committee and the Shape Memory Alloy Division as leading members and made a great contribution to the JIS standardization.
(note 6) Sumitomo Special Metals Co., Ltd., Daido Steel Co., Ltd., Tohoku Metal Industries Co., Ltd., Dowa Mining Co., Ltd., Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation
(3) Association of Shape Memory Alloys (ASMA)
As mentioned above, the "Shape Memory Alloy Division" in the Osaka Science & Technology Center and the "Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloy" achieved the original goals and were dissolved in 1992 and 1993, respectively. However, people believed hopefully that some research group should be continued or newly created in order to maintain the previous positive development of shape memory alloys and their applications at a world wide level. In October 1993, researchers of shape memory alloys in 6 companies(note 7) established the "Association of Shape Memory Alloys" to maintain and develop the activities in the "Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloys" based on the collaborative relationships between the "Shape Memory Alloy Division" and the "Technological Research Association of Shape Memory Alloy". At its establishment, this association was determined as a research group engaged in the development and applications of shape memory alloys, and was intended for material manufacturers, spring companies and companies involved in applications of alloys, but in the next year, it expanded the members to include corporations and individuals who investigated alloys or planned the application of alloys, and the number of members has been increasing little by little up to the present day.
The purpose of this association is to advance the science and technology of shape memory alloys and to contribute to industrial development. To accomplish this purpose, the following activities were carried out;
- Research and study on shape memory alloys.
- Holding of seminars and workshops.
- Publication of newsletters.
- Communication and collaboration with other related societies and institutes.
- Other related projects.
(note 7) Kato Hatsujo Co., Ltd. (currently PIOLAX, PIOLAX Medical Device, Inc.), Sogo Spring Co., Ltd, Daido Steel Co., Ltd., NEC TOKIN Corporation, Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation
(4) Future Issues
The purpose of the establishment of the "Association of Shape Memory Alloys", process and the present situation of the activities has been briefly introduced above. This association was formed only 10 years ago and the number of support and regular members is not large, namely, it is a young and small organization. On the one hand, in order to achieve the far-reaching ideal, that this association advances the science and technology on shape memory alloys and contributes to industrial development, it is my personal wish that the association should secure an adequate financial base for research and development or promotion and enlightenment by getting financial aids from public agencies such as, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, thereby attracting more members. On the other hand, the origin of the association is a union among a few companies, however if this association became a too big, it might be unmanageable, therefore I think that this issue should be discussed. At any rate, I hope that every member reconfirms the above philosophy or purpose and makes efforts towards the continuing development of this association.
Reference: NEWS LETTER of the Association of Shape Memory Alloys, No. 54, June 2006