Manufacturing & Prototyping

Non-Magnetic, Tough, Corrosion- and Wear-Resistant Knives From Bulk Metallic Glasses and Composites

High-performance knives are used in hunting, fishing, sailing, diving, industrial, and military applications. Quality knives are typically fabricated from high-strength steel alloys. Depending on the application, there are different requirements for mechanical and physical properties that cause problems for steel alloys. For example, diver’s knives are generally used in salt water, which causes rust in steel knives. Titanium diver’s knives are a popular alternative due to their salt water corrosion resistance, but are too soft to maintain a sharp cutting edge. Steel knives are also magnetic, which is undesirable for military applications where the knives are used as a tactical tool for diffusing magnetic mines. Steel is also significantly denser than titanium (8 g/cm3 vs. 4.5 g/cm3), which results in heavier knives for the same size. Steel is hard and wear-resistant, compared with titanium, and can keep a sharp edge during service. A major drawback of both steel and titanium knives is that they must be ground or machined into the final knife shape from a billet. Since most knives have a mirrored surface and a complex shape, manufacturing them is complex. It would be more desirable if the knife could be cast into a net or near-net shape in a single step.

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High-Pressure Lightweight Thrusters

Carbon/carbon composite structures are braided over iridium-lined mandrels and densified by chemical vapor infiltration. Returning samples of Martian soil and rock to Earth is of great interest to scientists. There were numerous studies to evaluate Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission architectures, technology needs, development plans, and requirements. The largest propulsion risk element of the MSR mission is the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). Along with the baseline solid-propellant vehicle, liquid propellants have been considered. Similar requirements apply to other lander ascent engines and reaction control systems.

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Ultrasonic Low-Friction Containment Plate for Thermal and Ultrasonic Stir Weld Processes

The thermal stir welding (TSW) process is finding applications in fabrication of space vehicles. In this process, workpieces to be joined by TSW are drawn, by heavy forces, between “containment plates,” past the TSW tool that then causes joining of the separate plates. It is believed that the TSW process would be significantly improved by reducing the draw force, and that this could be achieved by reducing the friction forces between the workpieces and containment plates.

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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.

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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.

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