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Electroforming Basics

Electroforming is the process of depositing thin layers of metal onto a mandrel through electroplating, dissolving the mandrel chemically, and leaving the plating as the final electroformed product. Learn how electroformed components are manufactured and how they can be applied to a variety of applications.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, White Papers

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Airbags Take the Weight in Load Tests of Aircraft

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Flight Loads Laboratory completed structural evaluations on a modified Gulfstream G-III aircraft that will serve as a test bed for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project. The loads tests assisted engineers in predicting the levels of structural stress the airplane will likely experience during ACTE research flights. And for the first time, some unusual hardware aided the process: the aircraft was supported by three large inflatable airbags during the tests.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Test & Measurement, Aerospace, Aviation, News

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Swan Seal

The seal can be sized to any application while maintaining its important features. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This seal features dual sealing capabilities: a face seal and an axial seal. The name swan seal is derived from its cross section, which resembles a swan. Most injector designs require fuel to be delivered from an inlet fitting, through a feed arm, to the injector tip. Temperature variation from the inlet to the tip, from the cool fuel to hot combustion air, and from startup to full power, often poses a challenge due to thermal growth. One of the most challenging areas is accommodating the growth differential between a hot feed arm and a cool fuel delivery tube, which is exacerbated by the relatively long distance. Several methods have been used to allow for this including coiling the fuel tube, utilizing an O-ring sliding seal, metal C-seals, or incorporating stretchable bellows. Some of the drawbacks of these methods include limited space, poor durability at high temperatures, serviceability, long lead times, and cost. The swan seal presents a compact, high-temperature, replaceable, low-cost option for this and other applications where a sliding axial seal is required.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Piezoelectric Actuated Valve for Operation in Extreme Conditions

The low-power, compact valve can be used wherever valves are required in harsh environments. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The extreme conditions on Venus (460 °C and 92 atm) prevent the use of any of the existing science instruments outside of the lander. To transfer a sample into the lander, a pneumatic mechanism was conceived that could bring sample powder into the lander. The mechanism is critically dependent on the availability of valves that can operate at the conditions on Venus. The ability to perform the sample transfer will enable the use of instruments that require direct access to the sample, but cannot sustain Venus’ ambient environment.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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A Field-Reconfigurable Manipulator for Rovers

Applications include bomb disposal, disaster recovery, search and rescue, and law enforcement. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Robotic technologies will be deeply involved in any future human mission to the Moon. Prior to human arrival, robots will survey and explore the lunar surface, establish infrastructure, and assemble and test habitat modules. Once humans have arrived, the robots must be able to assist human exploration activities. After the humans depart, robots will perform cleanup, maintenance, and documentation tasks. All these various robotic activities will require sensing and manipulation of the environment, but in quite different ways: a survey robot has very different requirements from a habitat assembly robot. It would be inefficient to launch a different robot for each task, yet a single robot capable of performing all of them would be ungainly and impractical. Instead, what is needed is a “kit” of robot parts that can be assembled into the desired robot for each task.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Lightweight, Flexible, Freezable Heat Pump/Radiator for EVA Suits

The absorption cooling process can be used to provide portable, regenerable refrigeration and air conditioning for recreation, transportation, and medical applications. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas For space exploration missions that may require extended stays and extensive extra-vehicular activity (EVA) operations, the temperature control system must be lightweight, rugged, non-venting, and repairable in space.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Cryogenic Balloon End Fitting Seal

The seal does not crack or leak at cryogenic temperatures. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Typical lighter-than-air vehicles utilizing a superpressure design such as balloons, aerostats, or blimps, have one or more fittings attached to the gas containment skin that can serve as load attachment points or inflation/vent ports. These fittings are often sealed to the skin with a silicone gasket and a room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) adhesive. This type of seal works very well over the temperature range encountered in the Earth’s atmosphere (–60 to +40 °C). However, balloons designed to operate at Titan or Mars would encounter temperatures much colder than those found on Earth, making this type of seal inadequate.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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