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Memry: An Intriguing History

Our history is intertwined with that of three other companies that developed along related tracks for decades, and then joined to deliver an integrated capability in nitinol and advanced materials technology. Following is a brief history about each of the four original companies:

SAES Getters

Of the companies, the one with the longest history is SAES Getters, our parent company, which has been in business for more than 70 years.

Società Apparecchi Elettrici e Scientifici (SAES) was founded in Milan, Italy, in 1947 by the della Porta and Canale families, not long before the development of one of the first industrial alloys, barium-aluminum, in 1951.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, the company began its long tradition in materials science by developing getters, deposits of material placed inside vacuum systems to remove gases that would otherwise sabotage the system.

Over the years, SAES Getters helped the industry shift getters technology from ring shape devices to coatings, while developing technologies that made getters invaluable in a growing number of vacuum-based devices. These included the cathode ray tubes that first made black and white, and then color, televisions possible.

More recently, SAES Getters developed aerospace getter applications, with its ultra-high vacuum pumps enabling the successful touchdown of the Huygens Probe on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. The company is also modeling sensors for LISA space mission that, when launched in 2015, will be the first astronomical observatory for low frequency gravitational waves.

Memry Corporation

The company was incorporated in 1981 in Stamford, Connecticut, a venture started by a group of scientists intent on developing commercial applications for the emerging shape memory alloy business. Initially, the founding scientists concentrated on a family of copper-based shape memory alloys.

By the late 1980s, the scientists realized copper-based alloys could not answer the demanding needs of certain applications. During the early 1960s, a new alloy, nitinol, was discovered. Nitinol became the answer to Memry's problems with copper-based alloys.

In June 1996, Memry purchased the electronics division of Raychem Corporation. The acquisition involved Raychem's intellectual property and its manufacturing assets related to its shape memory business, giving Memry a production plant in Menlo Park, California. The purchase also included ties to the medical device market, which Raychem had served before Memry acquired its shape memory assets. Memry’s focus shifted to the medical device market.

SAES Smart Materials

SAES Smart Materials is a primary melter and manufacturer of nickel-titanium alloy mill products with 40 years of experience formulating, melting and processing nitinol and nitinol-based alloys and superalloys for shape memory and superelastic applications.

In 1954, as a unit of Special Metals Corporation, its engineers pioneered the vacuum melting of alloys; nine years later it became the first commercial producer of nitinol for the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory.

In 1982, the company patented a process for producing nitinol by blending pre-alloyed powders. A year later it began commercial sales of Powder/Metallurgy (P/M) nitinol to a manufacturer of orthodontic arches. In 1989, Special Metals patented vacuum arc remelting (VAR) of hot isostatic pressed (HIP’d) P/M nitinol to improve product ductility.

In 1990, the firm confirmed VIM/VAR processing for superelastic nitinol for orthodontics and began production of wire for medical and orthodontic applications.

The Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) business unit of Special Metals Corporation was acquired by SAES Getters in October of 2007, when it was renamed SAES Smart Materials.

Memry GmbH

Memory-Metalle GmbH was founded in February 1998. Located in the far southwest region of Germany, directly next to the Swiss and the French borders, Memory-Metalle established itself as a full service supplier for all needs related to shape memory alloys. Besides the material supply of wire, sheet, ribbon and tubing, the company also developed new products to customer specifications, and produced actuators and other components.

The company is known for its unique know-how in heat-treatment and processing of nitinol alloys and is capable of designing and producing tooling and testing equipment for most applications.

The company is involved in several national and international R&D projects and holds EUREKA status. The company is also involved in the German ‘Sonderforschungsbereich 459’.

Memory-Metalle entered into a joint venture with SAES Getters in May of 2006, transferring 50% of its shares to SAES Getters. It was renamed Memry GmbH.

Coming together

A number of actions by SAES Getters have resulted in our company in its current, integrated form, and as a leading nitinol consultancy/supplier:

  • 2006 – acquires 50 percent ownership in Memory Metalle Gmbh, a German producer of shape memory alloy components, to enter the European medical device market, and rebrands it as Memry GmbH
  • 2008 – acquires nitinol production facilities in New Hartford, New York, from Special Metals Corp., and forms SAES Smart Materials
  • 2008 – acquires Memry Corporation, which had been steadily increasing its capability to provide nitinol-based medical device components since its founding in 1983, and rebrands it as SAES Memry
  • 2010 – rebrands the three entities—SAES Memry, SAES Smart Materials, and Memry GmbH—as Memry Corporation

With its most recent purchase of Memry, SAES Getters completed the joint company’s nitinol offering by adding a capability in semi-finished products (wire, tube, strip and sheet) along with advanced engineering technologies.