NiTi shape memory wire may be used for actuation purposes in flexible robotic grippers, which have to be able to handle objects of different size, shape or weight. Therefore it is advantageous to develop an electrically driven shape memory actuator, which may perform any combination of shape change and exerted force within the following limiting boundaries: - free recovery: gripping of a very small and lightweight object, - constrained recovery, gripping of an object with maximum size and weight. Several NiTi actuator wires are fabricated and annealed between 400 and 600°C after cold working in the martensitic state. After prestraining each wire is embedded in a silicone matrix material. The polymer works as a bias spring and is able to store elastic deformation energy. This paper investigates the influence of thermal treatment on the stability of the exerted force between the two boundaries of completely free and constrained recovery, the "partially constrained recovery". The stability of recovery strain and stress is measured in a test assembly, in which different modes of partially constrained recovery are simulated. The work is supplemented by dilatometric measurements carried out with each actuator wire before and after the test procedure.