The traditional actuation systems such as combustion engines, electro motors, hydraulic and pneumatic machines, have several drawbacks: large volume and weight, huge energy consumption and high cost. To overcome these problems, this paper presents a novel large-stroke linear actuator actuated by shape memory alloy (SMA) wires. Multiple SMA wires are distributed in the space three-dimensionally and connected in series to achieve a larger stroke of the actuator. The tandem structure makes the SMA actuator easy to integrate into a narrow available space with dimension constraints. A theoretical model for bias element selection is developed through analysis of the driving paths. A prototype of the proposed SMA actuator is fabricated and corresponding experiments are conducted to verify the functions and performances. The critical working performances of the SMA actuator such as the output displacement, heating electric current, actuation time and reset time are obtained and investigated. The results prove that the proposed SMA actuator can output an ideal driving stroke and enough actuation force in confined space. This research provides design ideas for the large-stroke SMA actuator in more application fields.

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