Manufacturing & Prototyping

Patterning of Indium Tin Oxide Films

The patterns are formed by laser printing directly onto the films. A relatively rapid, economical process has been devised for patterning a thin film of indium tin oxide (ITO) that has been deposited on a polyester film. ITO is a transparent, electrically conductive substance made from a mixture of indium oxide and tin oxide that is commonly used in touch panels, liquid-crystal and plasma display devices, gas sensors, and solar photovoltaic panels. In a typical application, the ITO film must be patterned to form electrodes, current collectors, and the like. Heretofore it has been common practice to pattern an ITO film by means of either a laser ablation process or a photolithography/etching process. The laser ablation process includes the use of expensive equipment to precisely position and focus a laser. The photolithography/etching process is time-consuming.

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Gimballed Shoulders for Friction Stir Welding

Digging of edges of shoulders into workpieces would be reduced or eliminated. In a proposed improvement of tooling for friction stir welding, gimballed shoulders would supplant shoulders that, heretofore, have been fixedly aligned with pins. The proposal is especially relevant to self-reacting friction stir welding.

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Creep Forming of Carbon-Reinforced Ceramic-Matrix Composites

A set of lecture slides describes an investigation of creep forming as a means of imparting desired curvatures to initially flat stock plates of carbon-reinforced ceramic-matrix composite (C-CMC) materials. The investigation is apparently part of a continuing effort to develop improved means of applying small CCMC repair patches to reinforced carbon- carbon leading edges of aerospace vehicles (e.g., space shuttles) prior to reentry into the atmosphere of the Earth.

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Dog-Bone Horns for Piezoelectric Ultrasonic/Sonic Actuators

Relative to other shapes, the dog-bone shape offers better performance. A shape reminiscent of a dog bone has been found to be superior to other shapes for mechanical-amplification horns that are components of piezoelectrically driven actuators used in a series of related devices denoted generally as ultrasonic/sonic drill/corers (USDCs). The first of these devices was reported in “Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corers With Integrated Sensors” (NPO-20856), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2001), page 38. The dog-bone shape was conceived especially for use in a more recent device in the series, denoted an ultrasonic/ sonic gopher, that was described in “Ultrasonic/Sonic Mechanisms for Drilling and Coring” (NPO-30291), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 9 (September 2003), page 65. The figure shows an example of a dog-bone-shaped horn and other components of an ultrasonic gopher.

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Freeze Tape Casting of Functionally Graded Porous Ceramics

Pore structures can be tailored in ways heretofore impossible. Freeze tape casting is a means of making preforms of ceramic sheets that, upon subsequent completion of fabrication processing, can have anisotropic and/or functionally graded properties that notably include aligned and graded porosity. Freeze tape casting was developed to enable optimization of the microstructures of porous ceramic components for use as solid oxide electrodes in fuel cells: Through alignment and grading of pores, one can tailor surface areas and diffusion channels for flows of gas and liquid species involved in fuel-cell reactions. Freeze tape casting offers similar benefits for fabrication of optimally porous ceramics for use as catalysts, gas sensors, and filters.

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Electrophoretic Deposition on Porous Non-Conductors

EPD is simplified and made more widely applicable. A method of electrophoretic deposition (EPD) on substrates that are porous and electrically non-conductive has been invented. Heretofore, in order to perform an EPD, it has been necessary to either (1) use a substrate material that is inherently electrically conductive or (2) subject a non-conductive substrate to a thermal and/or chemical treatment to render it conductive.

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Rapid and Quiet Drill

This is an all-ultrasonic variant of previously reported ultrasonic/sonic drills. The figure depicts selected aspects of the rapid and quiet drill (RAQD), which is a prototype apparatus for drilling concrete or bricks. The design and basic principle of operation of the RAQD overlap, in several respects, with those of ultrasonic/sonic drilling and coring apparatuses described in a number of previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. The main difference is that whereas the actuation scheme of the prior apparatuses is partly ultrasonic and partly sonic, the actuation scheme of the RAQD is purely ultrasonic. Hence, even though the RAQD generates considerable sound, it is characterized as quiet because most or all of the sound is above the frequency range of human hearing.

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