Shape memory polymer snap-fits for active disassembly

John Carrell, Derrick Tate, Shiren Wang, Hong Chao Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper explores a means to simplify disassembly by engineering a snap-fit that automatically releases upon exposure to a heat field thus limiting manual labor or machine operation for disassembly. Shape memory polymer (SMP) snap-fits were designed and manufactured to actively release upon a thermal trigger. Snap-fits were designed with an added feature known here as a release angle that would allow for an uninterrupted movement for disassembly in the presence of an elevated temperature. SMP snap-fits were then manufactured and tested. Testing was performed for demonstration of the active release of the SMP snap-fits and for analysis of active disassembly (AD) process parameters. Taguchi methods were used to analyze the AD process parameters, including heating method and disassembly temperature. The results from this research show the successful demonstration of the SMP snap-fits within a manufactured product housing. AD process parameter analysis shows that both the heating method and temperature affect the AD process. The analysis determines that by increasing the heat exchange rate the snap-fit disassembly time is shortened. From the performed experiments, it was seen that an Oil bath at 150 °C produced the best results in regards to disassembly time and signal-noise ratio. The results from experimentation demonstrate the possibility of acceptable heat-releasable fasteners for more efficient disassembly and exhibit benefits over current AD elements comprised of shape memory alloys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2066-2074
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Active disassembly
  • Shape memory alloy
  • Shape memory polymer
  • Taguchi methods


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