Manufacturing & Prototyping

Puncture-Healing Thermoplastic Resin Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Composites

This technology self-repairs following low- to mid-velocity impacts. A through-transmission C-scan of the healable composite panel shows the material post-impact (top) and post-healing cycle (bottom). NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed carbon fiber reinforced composites with self-healing properties. The initiation and propagation of damage to carbon composites, such as in aircraft structural components, results in component failure. Typical structural repairs result in damaging practices, where material is ground away and holes are drilled to secure patches, which can act as new sites for damage. This technology exhibits effective self-repair that heals quickly following low- to mid-velocity impacts, while retaining structural integrity.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Composite materials, Fibers, Thermoplastics, Durability


Improved Impact Toughness and Heat Treatment for Cast Aluminum

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center researchers have developed a new, stronger aluminum alloy, ideal for cast aluminum products that have powder or paint-baked thermal coatings. With advanced mechanical properties, the NASA-427 alloy shows greater tensile strength and increased ductility, providing substantial improvement in impact toughness. In addition, this alloy improves the thermal coating process by decreasing the time required for heat treatment. With improvements in both strength and processing time, use of the alloy provides reduced materials and production costs, lower product weight, and better product performance. The superior properties of NASA-427 can benefit many industries, including automotive, where it is particularly well suited for use in aluminum wheels.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Casting, Heat treatment, Aluminum alloys, Coatings, colorants, and finishes


Dynamically Variable Spot Size Laser System

Applications include aerospace engine repair, medical hardware manufacturing, plastic mold and die restoration, and jewelry manufacturing and repair.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center developed the handheld laser torch, 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. The controls and lenses are designed to increase precision, portability, and maneuverability as compared to existing automated lasers and traditional welding techniques such as tungsten inert gas (TIG), metal inert gas (MIG), or gas-tungsten arc welding (GTAW) systems. Proximity sensors with automated shut-off switches also ensure a high level of safety for the user.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers, Human machine interface (HMI), Welding, Nozzles, Spacecraft


Tension Stiffened and Tendon Actuated Manipulator

This configuration offers mechanical advantage and improved efficiency over existing arms that use weighty gearboxes and motors. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center is developing a robotic arm with lightweight joints that provide a wide range of motion. The envisioned design provides users with a long reach and numerous degrees of freedom. The arm, ideal for use in aquatic environments or for manipulation of light terrestrial loads, consists of articulating booms connected by antagonistic cable tension elements. The arm elements are structurally efficient and lightweight, and support compact packaging. The inherent mechanical advantage provided by the tendon articulation allows the use of small, efficient motor systems. The manipulator can be scaled over a large range from 10 m (load-bearing arm) to over 1000 m (submersible or float-supported arm). Current efforts are focusing on a 15-m prototype and a 300-m subsystem to test the unique robotic architecture. NASA is seeking partners to assist with the development of its concept system for specific applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Robotics, Biomechanics, Marine vehicles and equipment, Spacecraft


Lattice Structures Coating Concept for Efficient Thermal Linking Beds

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Conventional air revitalization technology for removal of CO2, moisture, and trace organic contaminants usually involves a packed bed of sorbent pellets that can be regenerated using a concept similar to that of pressure swing adsorption (PSA). Additional heat input for thermal regeneration is preferred during the adsorption-desorption process to increase the regeneration efficiency. Typically, a pair of adsorber modules consisting of the same sorbent material with identical loading capacity is placed in parallel and work in tandem, where one module adsorbs the contaminants from the process air while the other is in regeneration mode. The two adsorber modules have separate housings and may be placed in separate locations.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Life support systems, Oxygen equipment, Coatings, colorants, and finishes


A Statistically Based Approach to Broadband Liner Design and Assessment

The current method targets the entire broadband frequency spectrum simultaneously. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The broadband component of fan noise has grown in relevance with the utilization of increased bypass ratio and advanced fan designs. Thus, while the attenuation of fan tones remains paramount, the ability to simultaneously reduce broadband fan noise levels has become more attractive. Advanced manufacturing techniques have also opened new possibilities for the implementation of broadband liner concepts. This innovation is an integrated method for the design and evaluation of novel broadband acoustic liner concepts for complex engine configurations.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Insulation, Acoustics, Noise, Fans


Connection and Repair Techniques for Capillary Tubing in Restrictive Areas and Gas Chromatography Applications

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Capillary columns offer challenges in gas chromatography (GC) work due to their small size and fragile nature. Typical repair techniques to join two capillary columns require cumbersome metal fittings. This solution is not applicable in all situations due to size and mass limitations. Another repair or joint technique involves the use of polyimide glue with a tapered glass union. Without the bulky glass fitting, this technique is difficult to perform without plugging the column; the low-viscosity glue wicks up the capillary column and fills the small opening of the joint. Polyimide is also a problem due to its hydrolysis when trying to analyze water; the polyimide glue interacts with the water in the sample and affects the analysis. These solutions don’t support a repair of capillary columns for water analysis in a small gas chromatograph module.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Joining, Adhesives and sealants, Gases, Fittings, Hoses, Test equipment and instrumentation


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