Manufacturing & Prototyping

Novel Threading Enables New Approach to Golf Clubs

Fastener threading technology used on shuttle engines reduces vibration in golf clubs.

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and environmental resources.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Products of Tomorrow: April 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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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
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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
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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
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Products of Tomorrow: March 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Research and development
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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
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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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Vapor-Barrier Vacuum Isolation System

Applications include metal fabrication in the automotive, aerospace, sporting goods, and medical industries.

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, is a process that uses an electron beam gun, a dual wire feed, and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures for building parts or tools in hours, rather than days or weeks. EBF3 can manufacture complex geometries in a single operation, and provides efficient use of power and feedstock. The technology has a wide range of applications, including automotive, aerospace, and rapid prototyping. It can build large metallic parts measuring feet in length, and has been reduced in size and power to enable zero-gravity experiments conducted on NASA's Reduced Gravity aircraft.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Rapid prototyping, Fabrication, Metallurgy
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Silicon Micro-Emitters for Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion Systems

Advances in microfabrication capabilities are enabling the development of micro-needles for highly compact electrospray systems.

JPL's Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion (MEP) thruster design is based on a microfabricated electrospray system with a capillary-force-driven feed system that uses indium metal as the propellant. This architecture provides an extremely compact, modular system scalable to a wide range of applications from micro spacecraft to large, space-based telescopes.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Architecture, Microelectromechanical devices, Propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Silicon alloys
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