Particle-based foams spraying in microgravity

PI: Konstantinos Sierros, West Virginia University, John Kuhlman (Co-I), West Virginia University - Fairmont

In-space manufacturing is a key enabling capability for establishing long-duration human presence on the Moon. To support this goal, researchers at West Virginia University are investigating Particle-Based Foam Spraying in Microgravityto combine a cold spray process with 3D printing. The work aims to advance the state of the art of 3D printing in space by strengthening and/or extending the in-service lifetime of preexisting 3D-printed structures to reduce mission costs

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

With low density and high mechanical strength, ceramic foams have great potential for numerous applications—from radiation shielding to filtration and from photocatalysis to energy storage or heat exchange. Ceramic foam inks can also be combined with direct-write techniques, opening a new route for manufacturing previously unattainable complex, hierarchical, 3D structures of multifunctional materials with no material waste.

Technology Maturation

3D direct spraying is a key method for manufacturing parts with controlled properties and to cover large substrates, so researchers plan to study spray deposition of foamed model inks in microgravity. They will be stabilized by solid particles loaded into syringes and then sprayed to coat rigid substrates. Flight testing will enable study of fundamental particle-particle interactions as well as final assembly in microgravity.

This work is a continuation of previous flight testing under T0212.

Future Customers

•Radiation shielding, tool manufacturing, and repair for crewed lunar and planetary missions
•Repair of3D-printed solar cells, photocatalytic filters, and bio-cell scaffolds

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights20 (Sep 2020)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 1 Parabolic

Development Team

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