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Magnetic shape memory (MSM) materials change their shape with the magnetic field. They can also be used in the reverse operation as sensors or voltage generators. The present paper demonstrates that large voltages are induced when the MSM material is mechanically compressed inside a MSM actuator. The experimental results reveal that voltages of close to 100 V were generated with a Ni–Mn–Ga MSM material subjected to short mechanical impulses, because of a change in its magnetization. The induced voltage depends on the geometrical and material parameters of the MSM actuator, as well as on the speed by which the MSM material changes its shape. A magnetic model for calculating the induced voltage is proposed and the measurement results from a MSM-type actuator are presented. The magnetic model demonstrates good accordance with the experimental results. The physical reason for the voltage signal is discussed and potential applications are proposed. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.