Precision Deployment & Adjustment Mechanism

A deployment mechanism, with excellent fine tuning capabilities in three degrees of freedom.






Engineers at STFC have developed a hinge mechanism, enabling deployment of an element or surface to a fixed position under very low acceleration, whilst retaining the ability to fine-tune the orientation. It is an activation system in which deployment force is provided by a spring resisted by a shape memory alloy (SMA).  The spring force acts to deploy the element (e.g. a panel) at all times, but its stiffness is insufficient to overcome that of the SMA.  Once heat is applied to the SMA it begins to return to its original shape, thereby allowing the spring to deploy the (panel) element.  Once deployed to a pre-determined position precision adjustments can then be applied in three degrees of freedom.  These adjustments can enable the alignment of several elements deployed simultaneously, or sequentially, to enable a complete, aligned surface.


Deployable surfaces and components hold significant interest in a variety of applications.  This mechanism has been developed for space applications and as such, high reliability and low mass are key features.  The mechanism can be tested and reset prior to storage ready for deployment when needed.  In addition, it can be re-set via an external means if needed and subsequently re-deployed.




• Low deployment acceleration to a fixed stop

• Deployed position maintained against stop

• Precision adjustment of position in three degrees of freedom

• Compact, low power assembly

• Compatible with hostile environments including vacuum, cryogenic & space environments




• Spacecraft

• Robotics

• Nuclear/hazardous environments

• Automotive

• Aerospace


Patent Information:
Country Serial No.
United Kingdom GB1616073.1
For Information, Contact:
Sarah Nash
STFC Innovations
02.e. Packaging/Handling
02.j. Aerospace Technology
05.g. Mechanical Engineering