Manufacturing & Prototyping

Fabrication of BSA 14-23 Superhydrophobic Sponges as Efficient Oil and Organic Liquid Absorbents

This approach is fast, simple, inexpensive, widely applicable, and scalable.

Oil spills have become an environmental problem due to the growth of offshore oil exploration, production, and transportation. There are several methods that have been used to clean up oil spills such as chemical dispersants, water skimming, and using absorbent materials. Although skimming is the most common method for cleaning large spills, this method is time-consuming, expensive, and poorly separates oil and water. Chemical dispersants can be used to break up oil slicks into droplets that can be easily dissipated in water, but the mixture of oil and dispersants can be toxic and damage marine ecosystems. Thus, the use of oil sorbents can be an effective method to ease oil collection, and sorbents have a high capacity for removing oil from a targeted site.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Environmental technologies, Water reclamation, Fabrication

Suspended Platform Improves Efficiency in Large-Scale Manufacturing

The platform enables access to large, external surfaces with minimum footprint and maximum system rigidity.

The Flying Carpet is a platform of any shape, size, or material that is suspended by a four-point cable system. The platform can serve as a movable scaffolding and worker positioning system that enables workers to maneuver themselves, parts, and tools throughout a large work volume for tasks such as ship repair and aircraft paint removal with up to 20 times improved efficiency over hand-built scaffolding. The Flying Carpet is a cable-supported platform that uses single-axis jog-, velocity-, and force-control modes.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Industrial vehicles and equipment

Positioning Stage

Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Electronic equipment, Fiber optics, Lasers, Sensors and actuators, Electronic equipment, Fiber optics, Lasers, Sensors and actuators, Assembling, Joining

Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

These multi-functional composite materials have applications in body armor, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical functionalization may be necessary. Development of multifunctional composite materials may require functionalization of a collection of CNTs to allow the tubes to be dispersed more easily in a host matrix.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Chemicals, Composite materials, Nanomaterials

Carbon Fiber and Fiber Metal Laminate Composites Reinforced with Metallic Glass

This new class of composites has applications in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, military, and defense.

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio. To improve their mechanical properties, CF is sometimes used as a laminate, usually with aluminum, to improve the impact and residual strength properties of the CF. By bonding sheets of CF and aluminum, it was noticed that fatigue crack growth rates could be reduced in the laminates, as compared to monolithic sheets of either material. These composites have been referred to as CF metal laminates (CFMLs), and they are generally comprised of thin sheets of metal alloys (not always Al) and plies of fiber (not always carbon fiber) reinforced with polymeric materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Composite materials, Fibers, Glass, Materials properties, Metals

Melt Infiltration of SiC/SiC Preforms Using Cr-Si Alloys

These composites can be used in aircraft engine turbine blades, vanes, combustor lines, and shrouds.

The goal of this work was to develop engineered matrix SiC/SiC ceramic composites with crack blunting and self-healing capabilities for 1588 to 1755 K applications. The work optimized the temperature and time conditions for melt-infiltrating SiC/SiC preforms with chromium silicide alloys, and established that these alloys do not react with the coatings on the SiC fibers. Traditional ways of fabricating SiC fiber-based ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) use silicon to melt-infiltrate the CMC preforms, where the Si is often converted to SiC by reaction with carbon. The traditional SiC matrices have poor high-temperature creep properties due to the presence of residual silicon. They also have low fracture toughness and a low matrix cracking stress.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Ceramics, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Silicon alloys, Smart materials

Method of Making a Composite Panel Having Subsonic Transverse Wave Speed Characteristics

Applications include internal aircraft structures, buildings, and enclosures for machines.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an enhanced design for a composite panel with a recessed core. NASA designed it to decrease the radiation efficiency and increase the transmission loss while maintaining load-bearing capability so it could be used in applications such as aircraft floors. Similar to traditional composite panels, the innovation possesses low weight characteristics, but in addition, it can be used in load-bearing applications. The invention was developed for NASA's Quiet Aircraft Technology Program. The superior design of the composite panel can be used in a wide variety of commercial applications wherever honeycomb is needed and improved acoustics are desired. NASA has patented and tested the novel design, and is interested in attracting development partners and potential licensees for the recessed core composite panel design.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Aircraft structures, Design processes, Flooring, Composite materials

Additively Manufactured Modular Thrust Chamber

Thrust chambers have historically been difficult to manufacture. They require extensive tooling and labor, and are expensive with long lead times. Thrust chambers were designed for manufacture using conventional machining. As a result, designs required multiple pieces to ensure machine tool access to each surface. The individual pieces would then be joined and assembled into a single thrust chamber. These joining operations typically required process development due to the complexity of the parts and the need for joining to provide a seal between parts. A faster, more reliable and affordable manufacturing method was desired.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Additive manufacturing, Productivity, Engine components, Rocket engines, Reliability

Hot Isostatic Pressing of 60-Nitinol

The material 60-Nitinol (60wt%Ni-40wt%Ti) has a unique combination of physical properties, including high hardness, low apparent elastic modulus, and resistance to saltwater corrosion. These properties give the material tremendous potential for use in aerospace and defense-related components such as bearings, gears, and other apparatuses. Various methods of primary processing are being explored for fabrication of high-performance components that are free of metallurgical defects that might lead to premature failure. Hot isostatic pressing (HIP) is one process under consideration. The steps in the HIP process include (a) filling a sealed canister of the appropriate dimensions with powder, (b) heating the canister under vacuum to remove volatile and gaseous contents, (c) applying heat and pressure to the evacuated and sealed canister to consolidate the contents, and (d) removing the canister.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Materials properties, Reliability

Logistics for Building Radiation Storm Shelters and their Operational Evaluation

Various habitat structures were tested for use in exploration activities.

Over the past three years, NASA has been studying the operational effectiveness and astronaut protection efficacy of numerous radiation protection shelters for use in space exploration activities outside of Earth's magnetosphere. The work was part of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) RadWorks Storm Shelter project. Fabricated items were integrated into mockup deep space habitat vehicle sections for operational evaluations. Two full-scale human-in-loop simulations were designed, fabricated, and implemented. The goal was to provide design and performance assessment information for consideration by mission designers who must quantify the radiation protection characteristics of their exploration trade space.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Protective structures, Radiation protection, Spacecraft

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