materials and coatings
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
The method chemically introduces mechanically sensitive chemical groups into the structure of a resin. By introducing mechanoresponsive functional groups to a polymer, it is possible to induce self-healing through the transformation of such chemical groups to where mechanical properties of a structure are almost completely restored. The forces imparted by a damage event can therefore be used to enable healing or repair of the structure.
materials and coatings
Functionally Graded Metal-Metal Composite Structures
In order to improve the properties of monolithic metallic materials, alloying additions are made that create secondary phases and/or precipitate structures. These improvements must occur during melt solidification and are governed by the thermodynamics of the process. That is, optimizing the metallic alloy is possible only as much as thermodynamics allow. Developing novel methods to combine metallic compositions/alloys into a fully dense material is of interest to create materials with novel property combinations not available with monolithic alloys.While various approaches for layering two-dimensional materials exist, their capabilities are typically limited and non-isotropic. Further, while three-dimensional composites may be formed with conventional powder metallurgy processes, it is generally very difficult to control the arrangement of the phases, for example due to randomness created by mixing powders. This invention is method for creating a multiple alloy composite structures by forming a three-dimensional arrangement of a first alloy composition, in which the three-dimensional arrangement has a substantially open and continuous porosity. The three-dimensional arrangement of the first alloy composition is infused with at least a second alloy composition. The three-dimensional arrangement is then consolidated into a fully dense solid structure.
materials and coatings
Multi-layered Self-healing Material System for Impact Mitigation
This innovation utilizes a tri-layered structure, comprised of solid plastic front and back layers sandwiching a viscous, reactive liquid middle layer. Combined, this system provides rapid self-healing following high velocity ballistic penetrations. Self-healing in the front and back layers occurs when the puncture event creates a melt state in the polymer materials and the materials melt elasticity snaps back and closes the hole. The viscous middle layer augments the self-healing properties of the other layers by flowing into the gap created by a ballistic puncture and concurrently solidifying due to the presence of oxygen. Thus, this innovation has two tiers of self-healing: a puncture-healing mechanism triggered by the projectile and a second mechanism triggered by the presence of oxygen.
mechanical and fluid systems
Magnetic Pressure Valves
The innovation was developed for low-pressure pneumatic testing of a vacuum chamber in the Kennedy Cryogenics Test Laboratory. Standard relief valves that utilize mechanical springs did not function adequately at the low pressure (16 pounds per square inch [psi]) required by the inventors during testing. The technology is an improvement over current pressure relief valves using spring mechanisms. Typical pressure relief valves are normally held closed by a spring. After a relief valves cracking pressure is reached, the spring is compressed and the valve opens to relieve excess pressure. The NASA valve eliminates the need for a spring by instead incorporating magnets to hold the poppet relief valve in the closed position. The use of magnets in a pressure relief valve exploits the exponential decay of the magnetic field between two magnets as they are separated. This leads to a faster acting valve that does not require an increasing force to open the relief valve after cracking pressure has been surpassed, as is the case in standard pressure relief valves.
Modular Fixturing for Assembly and Welding Applications
NASA's researchers have designed modular fixtures to address inefficiencies in time, labor, and material costs due to the need to fabricate unique, monolithic fixture bodies for different segments of the Space Launch System (SLS). Before NASA staff can configure and weld rocket sections, they must assemble modular tooling atop a large turntable with radial grooves. Supporting braces (tombstones) that form the base of the modular structure slide into radial grooves. Other extending, clamping, and joining fixtures can be variously connected to the base structure to provide circumferential support for producing conical and cylindrical structures. NASA has used the tooling to produce structures with diameters of up to 27 feet. Depending on the desired application, the base can be scaled to produce larger or smaller diameters, and the grooves can be arranged with a longitudinal arrangement for production of parts with bilateral symmetry. The development of these modular fixtures required an initial investment similar to that of a single project's tool design and fabrication costs. Once produced, only a fraction of that time/cost is required to begin all subsequent projects. NASA has used this new, adaptable tooling in the construction of several different rocket stages, proving its cost-saving capabilities.
Ultrasonic Stir Welding
Ultrasonic Stir Welding is a solid state stir welding process, meaning that the weld work piece does not melt during the welding process. The process uses a stir rod to stir the plasticized abutting surfaces of two pieces of metallic alloy that forms the weld joint. Heating is done using a specially designed induction coil. The control system has the capability to pulse the high-power ultrasonic (HPU) energy of the stir rod on and off at different rates from 1-second pulses to 60-millisecond pulses. This pulsing capability allows the stir rod to act as a mechanical device (moving and stirring plasticized nugget material) when the HPU energy is off, and allowing the energized stir rod to transfer HPU energy into the weld nugget (to reduce forces, increase stir rod life, etc.) when the HPU energy is on. The process can be used to join high-melting-temperature alloys such as titanium, Inconel, and steel.
materials and coatings
Improved Infrared Contrast Analysis and Imaging
When using flash IR thermography to evaluate materials, variations in the thermal diffusivity of the material manifest themselves as anomalies in the IR image of the test surface. Post-processing of this raw IR camera data provides highly detailed analysis of the size and characterization of anomalies. NASA created complementary contrast tools that offer highly precise measurements. The peak contrast and peak contrast time profiles generated through this analysis provide quantitative interpretation of the images, including detailed information about the size and shape of the anomalies. The persistence energy and persistence time profiles provide highly sensitive data giving indications of the worst areas of the detected anomalies. Peak contrast, peak time, persistence time, and persistence energy measurements also enable monitoring for flaw growth and signal response to flaw size analysis. The normalized temperature contrast profile provides more sensitive response than image contrast, allowing the system to detect smaller flaws. JSC's suite of software and tools provides more comprehensive, detailed, and accurate NDE detection and characterization of subsurface defects in nonmetallic composite materials than current methods. JSC's software normalizes and calibrates the data, therefore, providing more stable measurements and greatly minimizing errors due to operator and camera variability.