NTB: Down the road, what do you see as the possibilities with spin forming in the aerospace industry?
Wagner: I think that one thing that we tried to do is demonstrate that you could use it for more than just domes. There might’ve been some isolated examples of other components, but they have not been wide ranging, and I think what we wanted to do is demonstrate that you could do different configurations (like a barrel, a cone, and a dome) all in one piece. And I think that will get people thinking about using this technology, spin forming, for things other than just cryogenic tank domes.
NTB: Can you take us through a typical day, and what you’re working on now?
Domack: Related to this project, a typical day for John and I right now is pretty dynamic, because this project of the fabrication of our forward pressure vessel bulkhead (FPVBH) has been given a lot of attention, which is great, along with some financial support to get moving with the next steps in the work. So on a day-to-day basis right now, we are working on our plans for the next steps in the work, which include material evaluations and structural analysis. We are having discussions with our partners here, along with our colleagues here at NASA Langley, in laying out those plans. We have some students working with us that are assisting with doing metallography of the parts.
Wagner: Marcia and I are both engineers, both with a materials and metallurgical engineering background. One of the things that we need to do is to look at how the process affects the material, to make sure the properties are still adequate, that the grain structure that makes up the material, the aluminum, is correct, and that we don’t have any surprises. Those kinds of things. We need to do the details. We’re working the details of the article that we made, and we’re making plans for what the next step is. We’re doing the technical planning and how we transition to this new lighter weight material. We spend a lot of time interfacing with our team, with Lockheed Martin, with Spincraft. Because the demonstration article was successful, we’ve gotten more visibility and more interested people to be on the team.
Domack: And we are collaborating with researchers at other NASA centers as well. An important part of the project that we’re undertaking now is to really understand completely what the benefits are of this technology for fabrication of these kinds of structures. We’re not working this just from the materials standpoint. We do have materials and processing people from other centers, and structural analysis types from other centers, interfacing with us, consulting with us on a frequent basis.
Wagner: The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas, are an integral part of the team. We’ve worked closely with Marshall Space Flight Center in the past on all this type of innovative materials forming. They have a lot of expertise in friction stir-welding, a new welding process. They are a very, very important and active part of the team.
NTB: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
Wagner: I am incredibly excited to see this article having been made. John and I have worked with near-net shape fabrication technologies for 15-plus years. We’re always looking for some new application and new things that we can make. In this particular case, we came up with an idea that did not have a project, did not have funding support, and so we’ve put a lot of time and energy into generating interest for this: finding funding for each phase, a step at a time, and over about three years, we’ve finally culminated in actually fabricating this crew module. The reception that we’ve gotten to it from the technical community has been very rewarding. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to have those who would use the technology invest in it, and really help us get to that point. And it’s a really nice-looking piece of hardware.
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