Manufacturing & Prototyping

Correcting Thermal Deformations in an Active Composite Reflector

Composite actuators can be embedded into an easy-to-manufacture flat surface. Large, high-precision composite reflectors for future space missions are costly to manufacture, and heavy. An active composite reflector capable of adjusting shape in situ to maintain required tolerances can be lighter and cheaper to manufacture.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Cryo-Etched Black Silicon for Use as Optical Black

Stray light reflected from the surface of imaging spectrometer components — in particular, the spectrometer slit — degrade the image quality. A technique has been developed for rapid, uniform, and cost-effective black silicon formation based on inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching at cryogenic temperatures. Recent measurements show less than 1-percent total reflectance from 350–2,500 nm of doped black silicon formed in this way, making it an excellent option for texturing of component surfaces for reduction of stray light.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Design Competition for Portable Solar Power

Today, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (Thornton, CO) - a developer of lightweight, flexible, thin-film photovoltaic modules - has announced the selection of seven teams that will begin designing prototypes for the Ascent Solar Innovative Design Competition.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Energy, News, GDM

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Controlled-Orientation Short-Fiber Composite Bodies

Microstructurally controlled composite properties mimic biomaterials. A technique for depositing materials into position using a positive-displacement extruder to build up a body has been developed. This technique also includes a process to prepare composite materials through a solid free-body forming process containing directionally aligned short-fiber reinforcement and ceramic-particulate reinforcement (of which at least a portion is derived from an alkoxide precursor).

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Process for Rapid Prototyping in Ceramic-Matrix Composites

Precursors of continuous-fiber-reinforced CMCs are deposited in patterned layers. The ceramic-composite advanced tow-placement (CCATP) process is a means of laying down continuous-fiber-reinforced, ceramic-matrix composite (CMC) materials in patterned layers to form objects that could have complex three-dimensional shapes. The CCATP process is a member of the growing family of solid-freeform processes in art of rapid prototyping.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Improved Design and Fabrication of Hydrated-Salt Pills

Salt pills for adiabatic-demagnetization refrigerators could be mass-produced. A high-performance design, and fabrication and growth processes to implement the design, have been devised for encapsulating a hydrated salt in a container that both protects the salt and provides thermal conductance between the salt and the environment surrounding the container. The unitary salt/container structure is known in the art as a salt pill. In the original application of the present design and processes, the salt is, more specifically, a hydrated paramagnetic salt, for use as a refrigerant in a very-low-temperature adiabatic-demagnetization refrigerator (ADR). The design and process can also be applied, with modifications, to other hydrated salts.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Monolithic Flexure Pre-Stressed Ultrasonic Horns

Flexures are used rather than stress bolts, allowing one to apply pre-load to the piezoelectric material. High-power ultrasonic actuators are generally assembled with a horn, backing, stress bolt, piezoelectric rings, and electrodes. The manufacturing process is complex, expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. The internal stress bolt needs to be insulated and presents a potential internal discharge point, which can decrease actuator life. Also, the introduction of a center hole for the bolt causes many failures, reducing the throughput of the manufactured actuators.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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