This article highlights that shape memory alloys are finding their way into more earthbound applications. Alloys of nickel and titanium, named Nitinol after their primary constituents and for the Naval Ordnance Laboratory where they were discovered, can assume two shapes, depending on their crystal structure. Exhibiting martensitic structures at low temperatures and austenitic structures at higher ones, the alloys, in effect, remember two distinct patterns. Some aspects of intelligent machines, like detecting and adjusting the offsets in part location and tool dimensions, are almost routine, yet other aspects of smart machine tools are a long way off. Some areas await basic research. Making the goal of intelligent tools no less challenging is the difficulty of getting machine tool makers, sensor manufacturers, and other suppliers to the machinists’ trade to cooperate and share ideas in a normally competitive atmosphere.

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