Morphing Wing Mechanism Using an SMA Wire Actuator

  • Kang, Woo-Ram ;
  • Kim, Eun-Ho ;
  • Jeong, Min-Soo ;
  • Lee, In ;
  • Ahn, Seok-Min
  • Received : 2012.02.27
  • Accepted : 2012.03.19
  • Published : 2012.03.30


In general, a conventional flap on an aircraft wing can reduce the aerodynamic efficiency due to geometric discontinuity. On the other hand, the aerodynamic performance can be improved by using a shape-morphing wing instead of a separate flap. In this research, a new flap morphing mechanism that can change the wing shape smoothly was devised to prevent aerodynamic losses. Moreover, a prototype wing was fabricated to demonstrate the morphing mechanism. A shape memory alloy (SMA) wire actuator was used for the morphing wing. The specific current range was measured to control the SMA actuator. The deflection angles at the trailing edge were also measured while various currents were applied to the SMA actuator. The trailing edge of the wing changed smoothly when the current was applied. Moreover, the deflection angle also increased as the current increased. The maximum frequency level was around 0.1 Hz. The aerodynamic performance of the deformed airfoil by the SMA wire was analyzed by using the commercial program GAMBIT and FLUENT. The results were compared with the results of an undeformed wing. It was demonstrated that the morphing mechanism changes the wing shape smoothly without the extension of the wing skin.


Flap morphing mechanism;SMA wire actuator;Aerodynamic characteristics


  1. Diaconu, C.G., Weaver, P.M., and Mattioni, F., "Concepts for morphing airfoil sections using bi-stable laminated composite structures", Thin-Walled structures, Vol. 46, Issue 6, 2008, pp.689-701.
  2. Friswell, M. I., and Inman, D. J., "Morphing concepts for UAVs", Proceedings of the 21st International Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Conference, Bristol, UK, 2006.
  3. Mattioni, F., Gatto, A., Weaver, P.M., Friswell, M.I., and Potter, K.D., "The application of residual stress tailoring of snap-through composites for variable sweep wings", 47th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC structures, structural Dynamics, and Materials conference, Honolulu, HI, 2006.
  4. Shelton, A.,Tomar, A., Prasad, J.V.R., Smith, M.J., and Komerath, N., "Active Multiple Winglets for Improved Unmanned-Aerial-Vehicle Performance", Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2006, pp.110-116.
  5. Sankrithi, M. M. K. V., and Frommer, J. B., "Controllable winglets", U.S. Patent, No. 7744038, June, 2010.
  6. Young, A.D., "The Aerodynamic characteristics of Flaps", Aeronautical Research Council Reports and Memoranda, London, England, 1947.
  7. Peel, L.D., Mejia, J., Narvaez, B., Thompson, K., and Lingala, M., "Development of a Simple Morphing Wing Using Elastomeric Composites as Skins and Actuators", Journal of Mechanical Design, Vol. 131, Issue 9, 2009, p. 091003 (8pp.)
  8. James, T., Menner, A., Bismarck, A., and Iannucci, L., "Morphing Skins: Development of New Hybrid Materials", 4th SEAS DTC Technical Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 2009.
  9. Bubert, E. A., Woods, B. K. S., Lee, K., Kothera, C.S., and Wereley, N. M., "Design and fabrication of a passive 1D morphing aircraft skin", Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Vol. 21, No. 17, 2010, pp. 1699-1717.
  10. Baier, H. and Datashvili, L., "Active and Morphing Aerospace Structures-a Synthesis Between Advanced Materials, Structures and Mechanisms", International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2011, pp.225-240.

Cited by

  1. Nonlinear Dynamic Characteristics and Optimal Control of SMA Composite Wings Subjected to Stochastic Excitation vol.2015, 2015,
  2. Design and Analysis of Biomimetic Nose Cone for Morphing of Aerospace Vehicle vol.14, pp.2, 2017,
  3. Morphing aircraft based on smart materials and structures: A state-of-the-art review vol.27, pp.17, 2016,
  4. A shape memory alloy–based soft morphing actuator capable of pure twisting motion vol.26, pp.9, 2015,
  5. Synergistic smart morphing aileron: Experimental quasi-static performance characterization vol.26, pp.10, 2015,
  6. Interrogation of Undersensing for an Underactuated Dynamical System vol.15, pp.4, 2015,
  7. Design Analysis of Two Ways Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Actuated Aerofoil vol.564, pp.1662-7482, 2014,
  8. Characterization of shape memory alloy micro-springs for application in morphing wings vol.28, pp.1, 2018,


Supported by : KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute)