Materials & Manufacturing

Browse innovative developments in materials and manufacturing that significantly impact military, medical devices, automotive, and industrial manufacturing. Advances in plastics, metals, and composites are transforming 3D printing and rapid prototyping.

Stratasys, Eden Prairie, MN, has introduced the Objet500 Connex3 color multi-material 3D printer, the first 3D printer to combine colors with multi-material 3D...

Briefs: Materials
Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes Into Polymer Matrices to Produce Unique Properties

The present invention addresses the effective dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into polymer matrices. The nanocomposites are prepared using polymer matrices and exhibit a unique combination of properties, most notably, high retention of optical transparency in...

Briefs: Materials
Carbon Nanotube Growth Density Control

This method provides control over the growth density of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on a relatively coarse scale, with density adjustment over several orders of magnitude, using an applied electrical field or voltage difference that is aligned substantially perpendicular to the substrate surface, which is...

Briefs: Materials
Pulsed Plasma Lubricator (PPL) Technology for the In Situ Replenishment of Dry Lubricants in Extreme Environments

NASA missions employing mobility systems and other moving mechanical assemblies for application on Mars, the Moon, and in deep space depend on the reliable operation of these assemblies and their tribological components. Wet...

Briefs: Materials
Long-Life, Hydrophilic, Antimicrobial Coating for Condensing Heat Exchangers

Future manned spacecraft and lunar or Mars outposts will need a condensing heat exchanger (CHX) to control humidity in the cabin atmosphere. Condensing surfaces must be hydrophilic to control condensate flow and ensure efficient operation in zero gravity, and biocidal...

Briefs: Materials
Opposed Pad Gecko Adhesive Gripper for On-Off Omnidirectional Anchoring/Gripping in Orbit

The idea of turning the stickiness of a material on and off is not an intuitive concept, yet this is exactly how geckos run up walls at speeds greater than 1 m/s and cling to ceilings made of glass. Transitioning this capability to spacecraft would...

Briefs: Materials
Complex Geometry Multi-Use Coatings for Abrasion Prevention, Wear Resistance, and Lunar Dust Removal

Two coatings are required to remove/repel lunar dust particles from the mechanism or surface that needs protection. One coating must be a conductor, and one must be a dielectric. Tungsten carbide (WC) and aluminum oxide...

A gravity-independent PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell stack has been developed that will operate at high-pressure H2 and O2...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Metal-Assisted Fabrication of Biodegradable Porous Silicon Nanostructures

Porous silicon nanowires are fabricated by two-step, metal-assisted electroless chemical etching of p-type or n-type silicon wafers. This method, in combination with nanolithography or nanopatterning, can be applied to fabricate porous silicon nanostructures of different...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Post-Growth, In Situ Adhesion of Carbon Nanotubes to a Substrate for Robust CNT Cathodes

The field emission electron sources using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being targeted for low-power vacuum microelectronic applications for harshenvironment operation (high temperature, pressure, and corrosive atmosphere). While CNTs have demonstrated...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Mechanical Preparation of Glass Spheres

Samples of lunar regolith have included small glass spheres. Most literature has suggested the small spheres were formed by meteorite impacts. The resulting transformation of kinetic energy to thermal energy caused the lunar surface to melt. The process yielded glass spheres. Recreating a meteorite...

The automotive industry faces growing pressure for more efficient vehicles. This pressure comes from many sources including government regulations,...

Briefs: Materials
Mechanistic-Based Multiaxial- Stochastic-Strength Model for Transversely- Isotropic Brittle Materials

A methodology has been developed and the software written to predict the probability of failure of transversely isotropic (a type of anisotropy) materials under generalized thermomechanical loading. This methodology is mechanistic in that it is...

The U.S. Army is nearing completion on a project to eliminate its dependency on foreign countries for a critical energetic component in artillery and mortar ammunition,...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will 3D Printers Find a Place in the Home?

The 3D printing industry has new offerings today, specifically cheaper, easier-to-use hardware and online marketplaces filled with predesigned files. MakerBot, for example, recently announced a new one-button MakerBot Mini. Files can be sent directly to the compact printer from a mobile phone or...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Development of a Precision Thermal Doubler for Deep Space

Thermal requirements and a need for a very flat mechanical interface led to the development of a copper doubler for the titanium vault on the Juno Spacecraft. The vault is designed to contain the science instruments on the spacecraft, protecting them from damage due to the extreme...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improving Friction Stir Welds Using Laser Peening

Friction stir welding (FSW) has emerged as a promising solid-state process with encouraging results, particularly when used on high-strength aerospace aluminum alloys that are generally difficult to weld. Laser peening has been applied to the mechanical and fatigue properties of welded joints....

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Methodology of Evaluating Margins of Safety in Critical Brazed Joints

This methodology provides a guide consisting of design, testing, and structural analysis steps developed to assure positive strength margins of safety (MS) in critical brazed joints used for assembly of flight and non-flight structures.

Spacecraft shielding is defined as the outer layer of a satellite or spacecraft that protects it against micrometeorite and orbital debris (MMOD), radiation damage, and...

Briefs: Materials
Li-Ion Electrolytes Containing Flame-Retardant Additives

In order to improve the safety and performance of lithium- ion cells, especially over a wide operating temperature range, a number of Li-ion electrolytes have been developed that contain flame-retardant additives in conjunction with fluorinated co-solvents to provide a safe,...

Briefs: Materials
Touch Temperature Coating for Electrical Equipment on Spacecraft

A coating has been developed that can be applied to spacecraft equipment to significantly increase the allowable touch temperature limit, while only marginally degrading the heat transfer to the environment.

In the past two decades, there have been significant advancements in the field of additive manufacturing (AM) of titanium alloy (Ti-6Al-4V) and other metallic...

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Prototype Recovers Lost-At-Sea Images

New hardware built by research engineers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is helping NASA retrieve experimental images otherwise lost at sea. The hardware weighs less than two pounds, and...

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Actuator Meets NASA Requirements for Asteroid Sample Return

BEI Kimco Magnetics designed a customized moving magnet voice coil actuator (VCA) to meet the requirements for the flatplate Michelson moving mirror application on the...

NASA Spinoff: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Testing Devices Garner Data on Insulation Performance
NASA Technology

Whether you wanted to know how certain insulation would work on a Mars-bound spacecraft or on an Earth-based refrigerator, you would want to test its performance in the...

NASA Spinoff: Green Design & Manufacturing
Home Air Purifiers Eradicate Harmful Pathogens
NASA Technology

In the 1990s, NASA scientists were thinking of what astronauts would need to survive long-term missions to the moon and even to other planets in the solar system. One important...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hermetic Seal Designs for Sample Return Sample Tubes

Prototypes have been developed of potential hermetic sample sealing techniques for encapsulating samples in a ≈1-cm-diameter thin-walled sample tube that are compatible with IMSAH...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermo-Mechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy Response

This innovation is capable of significantly reducing the amount of time required to stabilize the strain-temperature response of a shape memory alloy (SMA). Unlike traditional stabilization processes that take days to weeks to achieve stabilized response, this innovation...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Silicon Alignment Pins: An Easy Way To Realize a Wafer-to-Wafer Alignment

Submillimeter heterodyne instruments play a critical role in addressing fundamental questions regarding the evolution of galaxies as well as being a crucial tool in planetary science. To make these instruments compatible with small platforms, especially for the study of...


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