Heat Activated Shape Memory Anchoring Device

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed an innovative cylindrical device that, upon heating, deploys anchors in all directions. This unique mechanism provides precise and permanent anchoring into larger cylinders such as PVC pipes or intramedullary cavities of long bones, enabling selective control over device placement.


Shape-memory polymers (SMPs) have shown remarkable potential in various industries, from robotics to construction and sports wear. However, their application in anchoring inserts into sleeves, bone implants, or pivot control remains largely untapped. This technology bridges this gap by introducing a novel approach to anchoring and control through shape-memory activation.


Our device features a hollow cylindrical design with internally embedded anchors made of nitinol, a shape-memory alloy. Upon heating, these anchors deploy outward due to a crystallographic transition from martensite to austenite phases, creating a secure and precise anchoring mechanism. The device can be easily inserted into a designated area and activated through temperature elevation, allowing it to conform to the surrounding structure and provide reliable anchoring or controlled expansion. Controlled manufacturing can produce different activation temperatures, suitable for different applications. For a medical implant, the device can be kept below the activation temperature until the implant is disposed within the medullary cavity of the bone and the patient’s internal body temperature causes the anchors to deploy.


  • Enables temporary and modular anchoring, facilitating easy insertion and removal of devices.
  • Offers precise control over pivoting and anchoring, ensuring optimal device positioning and stability.
  • Provides a versatile solution for various applications, from medical implants to mechanical engineering projects.
  • Enhances efficiency and reliability compared to traditional anchoring methods, reducing the risk of displacement or malfunction.
  • Promotes innovation and customization in device design and deployment, opening doors to new possibilities in engineering and biotechnology sectors.


  • Precision anchoring of orthopedic implants in intramedullary cavities of long bones
  • Secure attachment of medical devices within PVC pipes or tubing systems
  • Controlled expansion of flexible structures or materials in mechanical engineering projects
  • Temporary anchoring of components during assembly or manufacturing processes
  • Enhanced stability and positioning of sensors or actuators in robotics and automation systems
  • Controlled deployment of structural reinforcements in construction or infrastructure projects
  • Innovative anchoring mechanisms for underwater or aerospace engineering applications
  • Customizable anchoring solutions for wearable medical devices or prosthetics.
Last Updated: June 2024
An example of the heat activated shape memory device

Available for Licensing
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Steven J Simske
Adam Morrone

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Aly Hoeher