Manufacturing & Prototyping

High-Powered, Ultrasonically Assisted Thermal Stir Welding

This method has the potential to increase the longevity of hardware in the auto industry, especially in bearing wear. This method is a solid-state weld process capable of joining metallic alloys without melting. The weld workpieces to be joined by thermal stir welding (TSW) are drawn, by heavy forces, between containment plates past the TSW stir tool that then causes joining of the weld workpiece.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Next-Generation MKIII Lightweight HUT/Hatch Assembly

Applications for general aviation include the insulation around fuel tanks, especially winglocated tanks. The MK III (H-1) carbon-graphite/ epoxy Hard Upper Torso (HUT)/Hatch assembly was designed, fabricated, and tested in the early 1990s. The spacesuit represented an 8.3 psi (≈58 kPa) technology demonstrator model of a zero prebreathe suit. The basic torso shell, brief, and hip areas of the suit were composed of a carbon-graphite/epoxy composite lay-up. In its current configuration, the suit weighs approximately 120 lb (≈54 kg). However, since future planetary suits will be designed to operate at 0.26 bar (≈26 kPa), it was felt that the suit’s redesigned weight could be reduced to 79 lb (≈35 kg) with the incorporation of lightweight structural materials.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Additive Manufactured Propulsion System (AMPS) for Small to Micro Cubical Satellites

A hybrid, single-part design was fabricated from a material that acts as both the structure and the fuel for the propulsion system. The use of additive manufacturing technologies in aerospace applications has presented both opportunities and challenges. The ability to produce parts and components using additive manufacturing holds promise in both metals and plastics, whereas traditional subtractive manufacturing can be restrictive in design development and material selection.

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Bismuth Passivation Technique for High-Resolution X-Ray Detectors

The Athena-plus team requires X-ray sensors with energy resolution of better than one part in 3,000 at 6 keV X-rays. While bismuth is an excellent material for high X-ray stopping power and low heat capacity (for large signal when an X-ray is stopped by the absorber), oxidation of the bismuth surface can lead to electron traps and other effects that degrade the energy resolution. Bismuth oxide reduction and nitride passivation techniques analogous to those used in indium passivation are being applied in a new technique. The technique will enable improved energy resolution and resistance to aging in bismuth- absorber-coupled X-ray sensors.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Silicon Micromachined Microlens Array for THz Antennas

There is strong demand for a multi-pixel heterodyne detector array for Earth observation, astrophysics, future planetary, and ground applications. A 5×5 silicon microlens array was developed using a silicon micromachining technique for a silicon-based THz antenna array. The feature of the silicon micromachining technique enables one to microfabricate an unlimited number of microlens arrays at one time with good uniformity on a silicon wafer. This technique will resolve one of the key issues in building a THz camera, which is to integrate antennas in a detector array. The conventional ap proach of building single-pixel receivers and stacking them to form a multi-pixel receiver is not suited at THz because a single-pixel receiver already has difficulty fitting into mass, volume, and power budgets, especially in space applications.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Method for Reduction of Silver Biocide Plating on Metal Surfaces

Silver ions in aqueous solutions (0.05 to 1 ppm) are used for microbial control in water systems. The silver ions remain in solution when stored in plastic containers, but the concentration rapidly decreases to non-biocidal levels when stored in metal containers. The silver deposits onto the surface and is reduced to non-biocidal silver metal when it contacts less noble metal surfaces, including stainless steel, titanium, and nickel-based alloys.

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Micromachined Active Magnetic Regenerator for Low- Temperature Magnetic Coolers

Fabrication improvements are evaluated and introduced. A design of an Active Magnetic Regenerative Refrigeration (AMRR) system has been developed for space applications. It uses an innovative 3He cryogenic circulator to provide continuous remote/distributed cooling at temperatures in the range of 2 K with a heat sink at about 15 K. A critical component technology for this cooling system is a highly efficient active magnetic regenerator, which is a regenerative heat exchanger with its matrix material made of magnetic refrigerant gadolinium gallium garnet (GGG).

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