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Patents granted for shape memory alloy-based electronics locks

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AUSTRALIAN company TZ Limited says it has been granted Australian and Japanese patents for its electronics-based locking and fastening devices.

The patents relate to new types of the TZ SMArt Locking and Fastening Devices have been granted in Australia and Japan, covering a range of shape memory alloy actuated or smart materials actuated fasteners, fastening and locking systems, fastener assemblies and other related areas that represent embodiments and improvements over TZ’s prior art in the intelligent fastening device space.

The company says its patent application has also been accepted in China and is proceeding to grant, while the US and European patents are currently undergoing patent office examination.

One particular technology covered by the patent governs the possibility for a new type of electronically controlled snap joint.

Snap joints work on the principle that a protruding part of one component, e.g. an overhang clip, is deflected briefly during the joining operation and catches in an undercut in the mating component. Snap joints are used extensively in plastics design to clip moulded housings together. The application of shape memory alloy actuation can allow remote actuation via electronics means.

According to Kenneth Ting, Executive Director of TZ Limited, the patent grant demonstrates the company's strong proprietary position in this technology space.

Only one of the company's devices has been commercialised so far with the Radical product currently used in data centre and parcel locker systems.

"These new device form factors will support new applications of our technology going forward," he said.

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