Manufacturing & Prototyping

Fuel Tank for Liquefied Natural Gas

This technology provides increased strength through overwrapped composite materials.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new composite vessel technology that is suitable for use as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel storage tank for alternative fuel vehicles. This technology uses an improved composite over-wrapped technology to produce a pressure vessel that is simple to use, robust, and capable of withstanding high pressures. It is also lightweight and low cost. This technology shows great potential to help the United States and other countries move toward a cleaner environment while allowing for efficient use of a more natural fuel in many different applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Impact Tester Device

This lightweight instrument is used for investigating structural response.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a portable device to simulate low-velocity impacts on a material or structure. As composite materials are highly susceptible to damage caused by low-velocity impact, they must be designed and evaluated for structural integrity after these types of impacts. The NASA impactor’s design comprises an exterior tube, an instrumented projectile, a spring to propel the projectile, a spring compression device, a release pin, a wooden spacer/locator block, and an optical sensor. The tube can be handheld or rigidly mounted at any angle such that the impact response can be evaluated at specific positions on the test article. In the current configuration, impact energies between 4 and 40 J (between about 3 and 30 ft.-lbs.) can be obtained. Researchers designed a fully functioning prototype for the NASA Engineering and Safety Centers (NESCs) Composite Crew Module (CCM) program for damage tolerance testing. Both the impact force history and projectile velocity are captured during operation.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Spinoff: Wireless Platform Integrates Sensors with Smartphones

The platform, developed using NASA nanotechnology, paved the way for interchangeable smartphone sensors.In 2007, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a call for a sensor that could equip a smartphone with the ability to detect dangerous gases and chemicals, Ames Research Center scientist Jing Li had a ready response. Four years earlier, she led a team that wrote a paper on the use of carbon nanotube sensors for gas and organic vapor detection.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Nanotechnology, Sensors

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Designing for 3D Printing

3D printing has progressed over the past decade to include multimaterial fabrication, enabling production of powerful, functional objects. While many advances have been made, it still has been difficult for non-programmers to create objects made of many materials (or mixtures of materials) without a more user-friendly interface.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Simulation Software

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New Fabrication Technique Creates More Efficient Plastic Solar Cells

Schematic of a sequentially cast ternary (SeCaT) solar cell. (Peter and Ryan Allen) Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new strategy for fabricating more efficient plastic solar cells. The work has implications for developing solar cells with a wider absorption range and increased efficiency.

Posted in: News, Solar Power, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Manufacturing processes

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Technique Could Lower Costs of Making Bioplastics and Biofuel

Ulrica Edlund, professor of polymer technology. While abundant in nature, cellulose is difficult and expensive to find in pure or high-quality form. A Swedish research team has developed an efficient, accurate, and non-destructive way to detect the occurrence and purity of cellulose. The technique can be applied in mixtures of biopolymers as well.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Biofuels, Biomaterials, Plastics

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The Crucial Role of Additive Manufacturing at NASA

At NASA, the first steps of the Journey to Mars are well underway with the development of NASA’s next generation launch system and investments in research and technologies that should increase the affordability, capability, and safety of exploration activities.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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