Training Nitinol

I’ve been remaking the Sound Reactive Nightgown and trying to make the Nitinol react more effectively. So I’ve been researching methods to shape or train the Nitinol to ensure it maintains a determined shape.

flexinolI’ve been experimenting with different diameters of Nitinol (aka Flexinol, memory alloy, muscle wire). I found that the thicker wire works best for moving fabric. Here you see a picture of .010″ diameter Nitinol but I recommend using 500 um or more (.019″+)

Training the Nitinol: Force the wire into your desired shape using pins on a metal plate, metal clamps, or metal wire to hold your Nitinol into shape. Heat the Nitinol under fire (I used my gas stove for about 10-20 seconds). Make sure you’re moving the Nitinol to heat it evenly.

Set the Nitinol aside to cool to room temperature. Do not undo the clamps until completely cool.

Place the Nitinol in ice cold water for 10 seconds or longer. Take the wire out and let it return to room temperature. Now you can remove the clamps and stretch out the Nitinol (Try not to force the wire too much at any time – this can make the wire weak and snap and this stuff is expensive!).

Place the flexinol into a bowl or plate. Pour boiling water onto the Nitinol. It should return back to your forced shape in an instant.

training nitinol

I've wrapped the Nitinol on a metal rod to force a spring-like shape.


I've used a metal locking wrench to hold the wire onto the rod for heating.

A video showing the trained Nitinol in action:

This is a great link that gives info on Nitinol and training the wire:…


2 thoughts on “Training Nitinol

  1. heyaaa!!!
    I am trying to move the fabrix with flexinol and was not very succesfull .And then found your post. i have flexinol 0.010 and i was not able to make any dramatic movement really. did you settled with a thicker nitinol in the end.. which you can train the shape yourself ?.. i am assuming we can not train flexinol ones as well right as they are pre-trained (?)…

    Thanks so much!!!!!!!!

    • It depends on how thick your fabric is. I tested with several gauges of flexinol and tried to find the lightest fabric possible that wouldn’t catch on fire quickly. In the end I used weights on the flexinol to stretch it back to it’s original form by threading heavy bolts through the wire.

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