Manufacturing & Prototyping

Products of Tomorrow: January 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Sensors, Products, Techs for License, Articles


Variable-Sweep-Wing Aircraft Configuration

There are significant improvements in structural, aerodynamic, and energy efficiency. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Efficient aircraft designs are increasingly desired in order to support the continued growth of the air transportation industry. Continued expansion of this vital mode of transportation is threatened due to concerns over ever-increasing emissions, noise, and the demand for fuel. Current airport runway, ramp, and terminal facilities are increasingly constrained by encroaching growth and neighborhood environmental issues. The challenges associated with ever-increasing demand for air travel will require the development of aircraft that can fly efficiently over wide speed ranges, minimize their environmental impacts, offer the potential for sizing and growth relative to market demand, and make efficient use of constrained airport and airspace resources.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Energy Efficiency, Aviation, Articles, Briefs, Aeronautics


New Compounds Developed to Manufacture Tunable OLED Devices

Researchers have developed new organic compounds characterized by higher modularity, stability, and efficiency that could be applicable for use in electronics or lighting. A proof-of-concept project has begun to verify that the compounds have the photoluminescence and electrochemical properties required for the manufacture of tunable organic LEDs (OLEDs) that can emit in the blue portion of the visible spectrum, thus applying lower voltages and achieving greater efficiency and longer life.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Energy Efficiency, Energy, Lighting, OLEDs, News


NASA's Hot 100 Technologies: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Variable Power Handheld Laser Torch A handheld laser torch was designed for welding and brazing metals to repair hard-to-reach space shuttle engine nozzles. It incorporates various manual controls and changing lenses to allow the operator to adjust the laser’s power output in real time. Applications are likely to be in-field welding and brazing of damaged equipment where traditional welding systems cannot easily access the welding area.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Techs for License, Articles


Researchers Measure Stress in 3D-Printed Metal Parts

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM).The 3D-printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles. When each layer is complete, the build platform moves downward by the thickness of one layer, and a new powder layer is spread on the previous layer.While the method produces quality parts and components, residual stress is a major problem during the fabrication process. Large temperature changes near the last melt spot, and the repetition of this process, result in localized expansion and contraction.An LLNL research team, led by engineer Amanda Wu, has developed an accurate residual stress measurement method that combines traditional stress-relieving methods (destructive analysis) with modern technology: digital image correlation (DIC). The process provides fast and accurate measurements of surface-level residual stresses in AM parts.The team used DIC to produce a set of quantified residual stress data for AM, exploring laser parameters. DIC is a cost-effective, image analysis method in which a dual camera setup is used to photograph an AM part once before it’s removed from the build plate for analysis and once after. The part is imaged, removed, and then re-imaged to measure the external residual stress.SourceAlso: Learn about Design and Analysis of Metal-to-Composite Nozzle Extension Joints.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials, Metals, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News


High-Res Line Camera Measures Magnetic Fields in Real Time

Scientists have developed a high‑resolution magnetic line camera to measure magnetic fields in real time. Field lines in magnetic systems such as generators or motors that are invisible to the human eye can be made visible using this camera. It is especially suitable for industrial applications in quality assurance during the manufacture of magnets.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Sensors, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News


Engineers Harvest and Print Parts for New Breed of Aircraft

Student interns and engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center rapidly prototyped and redesigned aircraft using 3D-printed parts. The aircraft was custom-built by repurposing surplus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). By lengthening the wings, the team was able to improve aerodynamic efficiency and help extend the flight time of small, lightweight electric aircraft. The prototype aircraft are constructed using components from Aerovironment RQ-14 Dragon Eye UAVs that NASA acquired from the United States Marine Corps via the General Services Administration's San Francisco office. Unmodified, these small electric aircraft weigh 5.9 pounds, have a 3.75-foot wingspan and twin electric motors, and can carry a one-pound instrument payload for up to an hour. After finalizing designs that featured longer and more slender wings and dual fuselages, the teams printed new parts including wing sections, nose cones, winglets, control surfaces, wing ribs and even propellers using the NASA Ames SpaceShop. The 3-D printed wing sections were reinforced using carbon fiber tubing or aluminum rods to give them extra strength without adding significant weight.Flying as high as 12,500 feet above sea level, multiple small converted Dragon Eye UAVs, including the specialized and highly modified “FrankenEye” platform, will study the chemistry of the eruption plume emissions from Turrialba volcano, near San Jose, Costa Rica. The goal of the activity is to improve satellite data research products, such as computer models of the concentration and distribution of volcanic gases, and transport-pathway models of volcanic plumes. Some volcanic plumes can reach miles above a summit vent, and drift hundreds to thousands of miles from an eruption site and can pose a severe public heath risk, as well as a potent threat to aircraft.SourceAlso: Learn about Real-Time Minimization of Tracking Error for Aircraft Systems.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Aerospace, Aviation, News