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Electron Beam Additive Fabrication Technology for Rapid Manufacturing of Space Vehicle Hardware University of Alabama/NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Space Technology Mission Directorate

The purpose of this project is to broaden the effective usage of the electron beam additive fabrication (EBAF) technology, through fundamental process understanding, for NASA applications to aid the development and manufacturing of hardware for space vehicles. The EBAF technology is tactically important to the space vehicle developments and is aligned with the research and technology priority of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The research from this program has resulted in an invention, which has been filed for a utility patent application (Application Serial No: 14/276,345) on May 13, 2014. The title is “Systems and Methods for Designing and Fabricating Contact-Free Support Structures for Overhang Geometries of Parts in Powder-Bed Metal Additive Manufacturing.” The invention was jointly developed by The University of Alabama (UA) and the project

partner Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The invention was also highlighted in the NASA Technology Opportunity Sheet (MFS-33075-1) in 2014. MSFC has expanded its Additive Manufacturing (AM) facility including installing several high-end Selective Laser Melting metal AM systems for making Space Launch System (SLS) components. Further, UA has recognized the importance of additive manufacturing, and has had strong interest in metal AM and made strategic investments in additional faculty positions in metal AM (total 3 positions in 2 departments). The metal additive manufacturing capabilities in the state of Alabama have been significantly improved, evident by the expanded AM facility in MSFC, the enhanced AM research infrastructure in The University of Alabama, and the collaborations between UA and MSFC as well as the industry, e.g., CFD Research Corp. (Huntsville, AL).

The far-right piece in the photo demonstrates the effectiveness of the invented technology, contact-free support structures, in making complex-geometry parts in electron beam additive fabrication process. The invented technology will reduce part distortion and eliminate post-processing.

Dr. Kevin Chou, Science PI, University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

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NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014 -15

NASA Technical Monitor: Dr. Majid Babai, Marshall Space Flight Center

EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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