NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a method in which a metal matrix composite (MMC) material is incorporated into a metallic structure during a one-step near-net-shape structural forming process. In this in-situ selective reinforcement process, the MMC is pre-placed on the forming tool in locations that correspond to specific regions in the structure. The near-net-shape structural forming process is then executed and results in a metallic structural component with selectively reinforced regions that provide enhanced mechanical properties at key locations.
This method does not require secondary processing that may affect the structure’s mechanical properties. It does not require bonding agents that would limit the benefits of the reinforcing material. It adds reinforcement to only the specific regions of the structure that need enhanced strength, stiffness, and/or damage tolerance, thereby allowing for more efficient design and reduction in structural weight.