A major worldwide industry is the display and preservation of historical and rare documents, paintings, canvases, tapestries and other works of art. Many private collectors and museums pay large amounts, such as the $23 million for the U.S. National Gallery and $8 million for the U.S. National Archives. There is an even greater demand for many consumers who desire an affordable way to safely maintain their images in top condition for viewing and enjoyment. Another industry where the smoothness of the paper documents is important is in the shipping and delivery business. Here, many shipments are done with cylindrical tubes that cause the paper to appear bent and not flat. In some cases, this can pose a major problem for scanning and electronic devices which need a flat surface for optimal performance. A novel new alternative to traditional conservation methods is the use of Shape Memory Alloys (SMA’s) to remove wrinkles and other surface anomalies.

SMA’s use a thermoelastic property called the Shape Memory Effect (SME) to recover large strains by phase transformation. In this process, the SMA is stretched until the polycrystalline microstructure is detwinned Martensite. Then, energy in the form of heat is applied to the SMA which causes the phase transformation to the more compact Austenite. Thus, a reverse method is the proposed solution for the complex problem faced by art preservation experts. Instead of using large clamps and having to wait for results, we demonstrate how embedded SMA wires in a robust picture frame can provide a continuous restorative force that maintains the picture’s smoothness. Using proper simple wiring from the SMA wires to the picture, it is possible to remove the strains in the paper and hold the picture to the proper smoothness long term. We provide experimental results and offer suggestions for the future use of SMA’s in this new field of art restoration.

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