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7.1 Introduction to SMP:

SMP are compound plastics polymers that have a special chemical
structure that gives the ability to return from a deformed shape
(temporary state) to their original (programmed) state induced by an
external stimulus in the form of heat, light, electricity or magnetism,
usually all these stimuli generate heat with in the polymer to activate.
Shape Memory Polymers usually retain two shapes, (the deformed shape
and the original programmed shape) but recently more complex shape
structures are achievable

Polymers are molecules that are made up of large number of repeating

structural subunits which are connected together by chemical bonds
either covalent or ionic and, in shape memory polymers covalent bonds
are found.

Polymers are found to occur in two states, a Crystalline state and an

Amorphous state (Figure1) where when in a crystalline state it is
organised uniformly and becomes a rigid and stronger structure, and
when in the amorphous state the polymers subunits are randomly
scattered and are soft and flexible and able to move around relatively

A shape memory polymer has a semi-14 crystalline structure where both

states occur at the same time within a specific temperature, usually room
(Figure 4: The Crystalline state at A and at B Tg:A is 170C lower than Tg:B
200C [7] )
A Glass Transition Temperature (Tg) is when the polymer changes from
one state to the other i.e. from crystalline state to amorphous due to the
increase in heat energy. SMPs have two glass transition temperatures A
and B. With reference to figure (4), area A has a lower glass transition
temperature than area B. In the crystalline state all movements of the
polymer segments are frozen. The increase of temperature means that
the rotation around the segment bonds becomes increasingly unimpeded.
After heating, internal stresses (strain storage) inside the polymers react
elastically causing the polymer to recover to its original (programmed)
state (Figure 4). SMPs have an elongation capabilities of over 400% to its
size and with an accuracy when reforming of 99%.

When a shape memory polymer is heated above the first glass transition
temperature (Tg) the crystalline region is transformed to the amorphous
state and becomes flexible and extendable (show in a).
A load is then applied and the specimen of SMP extends, while its under
heat (path a-b). The specimen is then cooled when its deformed to a
temperature under its first glass transition temperature (path b-c) and the
amorphous region then changes back to the crystalline state.

The specimen will be fixed to its new deformed state, but due to internal
stresses of the uncrystallized amorphous region the specimen will contract
to a small extent (path c-d).

If the specimen is then heated again to a temperature above its first Tg

with no load on, the specimen will then return to is original shape
(programmed state).

The speed in which this polymer returns to its programmed structure is

limited by the friction generated within the molecular structure.

A non-covalent interaction differs from a covalent bond in that it does not involve the
sharing of electrons, but rather involves more dispersed variations of
electromagneticinteractions between molecules or within a molecule.