Materials & Manufacturing

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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.

Briefs: Materials
Measuring Moisture Levels in Graphite Epoxy Composite Sandwich Structures

Graphite epoxy composite (GEC) materials are used in the construction of rocket fairings, nose cones, interstage adapters, and heat shields due to their high strength and light weight. However, they absorb moisture depending on the environmental conditions they are exposed...

Briefs: Materials
Real-Time Deposition Monitor for Ultrathin Conductive Films

A device has been developed that can be used for the real-time monitoring of ultrathin (2 Å or more) conductive films. The device responds in less than two microseconds, and can be used to monitor film depositions up to about 60 Å thick. Actual thickness monitoring capability will...

Briefs: Materials
Marshall Convergent Spray Formulation Improvement for High Temperatures

The Marshall Convergent Coating-1 (MCC-1) formulation was produced in the 1990s, and uses a standard bisphenol A epoxy resin system with a triamine accelerator. With the increasing heat rates forecast for the next generation of

vehicles, higher-temperature sprayable...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Optimization of Indium Bump Morphology for Improved Flip Chip Devices

Flip-chip hybridization, also known as bump bonding, is a packaging technique for microelectronic devices that directly connects an active element or detector to a substrate readout face-to-face, eliminating the need for wire bonding. In order to make conductive links between...

Briefs: Materials
Optimized Li-Ion Electrolytes Containing Triphenyl Phosphate as a Flame-Retardant Additive

A number of future NASA missions involving the exploration of the Moon and Mars will be “human-rated” and thus require high-specific-energy rechargeable batteries that possess enhanced safety characteristics. Given that Li-ion technology is the most...

Briefs: Materials

Although the concept of nanotechnology (controlling matter on an atomic scale) dates back to 1959, it is only now becoming more commercially realized. It has the potential to challenge...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Engineers have long been aware of the potential of laser sintering to create innovative and beneficial medical products. Because it is an additive (layer-by-layer) manufacturing process,...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

A lens that enables microscopic objects to be seen from nine different angles at once to create a 3D image has been developed. Other 3D microscopes use multiple lenses or cameras...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Dead-Volume Inlet for Vacuum Chamber

Gas introduction from near-ambient pressures to high vacuum traditionally is accomplished either by multi-stage differential pumping that allows for very rapid response, or by a capillary method that allows for a simple, single-stage introduction, but which often has a delayed response. Another means to...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Infrared-Bolometer Arrays With Reflective Backshorts

Integrated circuits that incorporate square arrays of superconducting-transition-edge bolometers with optically reflective backshorts are being developed for use in image sensors in the spectral range from far infrared to millimeter wavelengths. To maximize the optical efficiency (and, thus,...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Selective Cleaning of Mold Release From Composite Honeycomb Surfaces

Honeycomb structures are commonly employed as load- and force-bearing structures as they are structurally strong and lightweight. These structures include many aircraft and spacecraft surfaces, including aircraft wings and fuselages, spacecraft pressure vessels, and...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Control Method for High-Current Wire Bundles by Injecting a Thermally Conductive Filler

A procedure was developed to inject thermal filler material (a paste-like substance) inside the power wire bundle coming from solar arrays. This substance fills in voids between wires, which enhances the heat path and reduces wire temperature. This...

Briefs: Materials
Novel Low-Density Ablators Containing Hyperbranched Poly(azomethine)s

An ablative composite is low-density (0.25 to 0.40 g/cm3), easy to fabricate, and superior to the current state-of-the-art ablator (phenolic impregnated carbon ablator, PICA) in terms of decomposition temperature, char yield, and mechanical strength. Initial...

Briefs: Materials
Commercialization of LARC™-SI Polyimide Technology

LARC™-SI, Langley Research Center-Soluble Imide, was developed in 1992, with the first patent issuing in 1997, and then subsequent patents issued in 1998 and 2000. Currently, this polymer has been successfully licensed by NASA, and has generated revenues, at the time of this reporting,...

Briefs: Materials
Carbon Nanotubes on Titanium Substrates for Stray Light Suppression

A method has been developed for growing carbon nanotubes on a titanium substrate, which makes the nanotubes ten times blacker than the current state-of-the-art paints in the visible to near infrared. This will allow for significant improvement of stray light performance in...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Carbon Nanotube-Based Structural Health Monitoring Sensors

Carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensors for structural health monitoring (SHM) can be embedded in structures of all geometries to monitor conditions both inside and at the surface of the structure to continuously sense changes. These CNTs can be manipulated into specific orientations to...

Briefs: Materials
Fire-Retardant Polymeric Additives

Polyhydroxyamide (PHA) and polymethoxyamide (PMeOA) are fire-retardant (FR) thermoplastic polymers and have been found to be useful as an additive for imparting fire retardant properties to other compatible, thermoplastic polymers (including some elastomers). Examples of compatible flammable polymers include...

Briefs: Materials
Variable Emittance Electrochromics Using Ionic Electrolytes and Low Solar Absorptance Coatings

One of the last remaining technical hurdles with variable emittance devices or skins based on conducting polymer electrochromics is the high solar absorptance of their top surfaces. This high solar absorptance causes overheating of the skin when facing...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The competition has attracted...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

A recent collaboration between the Whitesides Group at Harvard University and CSM Instruments has culminated in an important advance in lithography of different...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Mount Protects Thin-Walled Glass or Ceramic Tubes From Large Thermal and Vibration Loads

The design allows for the low-stress mounting of fragile objects, like thin walled glass, by using particular ways of compensating, isolating, or releasing the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) differences between the mounted object and the mount...

Briefs: Materials

A lift-gas cracker (LGC) is an apparatus that generates a low-molecular-weight gas (mostly hydrogen with smaller amounts of carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide) at low gauge pressure by...

Briefs: Materials
Ionic Liquids to Replace Hydrazine

A method for developing safe, easy-to-handle propellants has been developed based upon ionic liquids (ILs) or their eutectic mixtures. An IL is a binary combination of a typically organic cation and anion, which generally produces an ionic salt with a melting point below 100 °C. Many ILs have melting points...

Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Susie Prototyper

Ideally, the concept of "on demand" shouldn't limit itself to pay-per-view movies. If 3D printers were widely available in every household, consumers could quickly "demand" and fabricate specialized food and other objects at the touch of a button. Scientists in the emerging field of "bioprinting" are even attempting to make it...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Range 7 Scanner Integration With PaR Robot Scanning System

An interface bracket and coordinate transformation matrices were designed to allow the Range 7 scanner to be mounted on the PaR Robot detector arm for scanning the heat shield or other object placed in the test cell. A process was designed for using Rapid Form XOR to stitch data from...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Methods of Antimicrobial Coating of Diverse Materials

Methods of coating diverse substrate materials with antimicrobial agents have been developed. Originally intended to reduce health risks to astronauts posed by pathogenic microorganisms that can grow on surfaces in spacecraft, these methods could also be used on Earth — for example, to...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Antimicrobial-Coated Granules for Disinfecting Water

Methods of preparing antimicrobial-coated granules for disinfecting flowing potable water have been developed. Like the methods reported in the immediately preceding article, these methods involve chemical preparation of substrate surfaces (in this case, the surfaces of granules) to enable...

Briefs: Materials
Thermally Conductive Tape Based on Carbon Nanotube Arrays

To increase contact conductance between two mating surfaces, a conductive “tape” has been developed by growing dense arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs, graphite layers folded into cylinders) on both sides of a thermally conductive metallic foil. When the two mating surfaces are brought...

Briefs: Materials
Two Catalysts for Selective Oxidation of Contaminant Gases

Two catalysts for the selective oxidation of trace amounts of contaminant gases in air have been developed for use aboard the International Space Station. These catalysts might also be useful for reducing concentrations of fumes in terrestrial industrial facilities — especially...

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