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Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Time
11-13-2009, 07:36 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-15-2009, 03:46 AM by yeti.)
#1
Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Time
Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One
Layer At A Time

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110071535.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — A group of engineers working on a novel
manufacturing technique at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton,
Va., have come up with a new twist on the popular old saying about
dreaming and doing: "If you can slice it, we can build it."

That's because layers mean everything to the environmentally- friendly
construction process called Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or
EBF3, and its operation sounds like something straight out of science
fiction.

"You start with a drawing of the part you want to build, you push a
button, and out comes the part," said Karen Taminger, the technology
lead for the Virginia-based research project that is part of NASA's
Fundamental Aeronautics Program.

She admits that, on the surface, EBF3 reminds many people of a Star
Trek replicator in which, for example, Captain Picard announces out
loud, "Tea, Earl Grey, hot." Then there is a brief hum, a flash of
light and the stimulating drink appears from a nook in the wall.

In reality, EBF3 works in a vacuum chamber, where an electron beam is
focused on a constantly feeding source of metal, which is melted and
then applied as called for by a drawing -- one layer at a time -- on
top of a rotating surface until the part is complete.

While the options for using EBF3 are more limited than what science
fiction allows, the potential for the process is no less out of this
world, with promising relevance in aviation, spaceflight -- even the
medical community, Taminger said.

Commercial applications for EBF3 are already known and its potential
already tested, Taminger said, noting it's possible that, within a few
years, some aircraft will be flying with large structural parts made
by this process.

To make EBF3 work there are two key requirements: A detailed
three-dimensional drawing of the object to be created must be
available, and the material the object is to be made from must be
compatible for use with an electron beam.

First, the drawing is needed to break up the object into layers, with
each cross-section used to guide the electron beam and source of metal
in reproducing the object, building it up layer by layer.

"If you take a slice through a typical truss, you can see a couple of
dots in each cross-section that move as you go from layer to layer,"
Taminger said. "When complete, you see those moving dots actually
allowed you to build a diagonal brace into the truss."

Second, the material must be compatible with the electron beam so that
it can be heated by the stream of energy and briefly turned into
liquid form, making aluminum an ideal material to be used, along with
other metals.

In fact, the EBF3 can handle two different sources of metal -- also
called feed stock -- at the same time, either by mixing them together
into a unique alloy or embedding one material inside another.

The potential use for the latter could include embedding a strand of
fiber optic glass inside an aluminum part, enabling the placement of
sensors in areas that were impossible before, Taminger said.

While the EBF3 equipment tested on the ground is fairly large and
heavy, a smaller version was created and successfully test flown on a
NASA jet that is used to provide researchers with brief periods of
weightlessness. The next step is to fly a demonstration of the
hardware on the International Space Station, Taminger said.

Future lunar base crews could use EBF3 to manufacture spare parts as
needed, rather than rely on a supply of parts launched from Earth.
Astronauts might be able to mine feed stock from the lunar soil, or
even recycle used landing craft stages by melting them.

But the immediate and greatest potential for the process is in the
aviation industry where major structural segments of an airliner, or
casings for a jet engine, could be manufactured for about $1,000 per
pound less than conventional means, Taminger said.

Environmental savings also are made possible by deploying EBF3, she added.

Normally an aircraft builder might start with a 6,000-pound block of
titanium and machine it down to a 300-pound part, leaving 5,700 pounds
of material that needs to be recycled and using several thousand
gallons of cutting fluid used in the process..

"With EBF3 you can build up the same part using only 350 pounds of
titanium and machine away just 50 pounds to get the part into its
final configuration, " Taminger said. "And the EBF3 process uses much
less electricity to create the same part."

While initial parts for the aviation industry will be simple shapes,
replacing parts already designed, future parts designed from scratch
with the EBF3 process in mind could lead to improvements in jet engine
efficiency, fuel burn rate and component lifetime.

"There's a lot of power in being able to build up your part layer by
layer because you can get internal cavities and complexities that are
not possible with machining from a solid block of material," Taminger
said.

Adapted from materials provided by NASA.
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11-14-2009, 02:48 AM,
#2
RE: Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Tim
Sounds great until you REALLY understand how small an atom is.
Even at the rate of thousands of atoms per second it would take centuries to build an aircraft, car, or rocket.
By the time that happens we will have designed and bred LIVING biorobots of the style suggested 25 yrs ago by Damon Knight.
Choices, choices.
Reply
11-14-2009, 04:08 AM, (This post was last modified: 11-14-2009, 04:08 AM by ---.)
#3
RE: Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Tim
(11-14-2009, 02:48 AM)JazzRoc Wrote: Sounds great until you REALLY understand how small an atom is.
Even at the rate of thousands of atoms per second it would take centuries to build an aircraft, car, or rocket.
By the time that happens we will have designed and bred LIVING biorobots of the style suggested 25 yrs ago by Damon Knight.
Choices, choices.

oh, i don't know..there might be some undisclosed quantum leaps in the meantime.
Reply
01-18-2010, 02:40 AM,
#4
RE: Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Tim
(11-14-2009, 04:08 AM)nik Wrote:
(11-14-2009, 02:48 AM)JazzRoc Wrote: Sounds great until you REALLY understand how small an atom is.
Even at the rate of thousands of atoms per second it would take centuries to build an aircraft, car, or rocket.
By the time that happens we will have designed and bred LIVING biorobots of the style suggested 25 yrs ago by Damon Knight.
Choices, choices.

oh, i don't know..there might be some undisclosed quantum leaps in the meantime.

i dont think thats a problem jazz, as its on the molecular level. i know this is already being pioneered with plastics. and object the size of a small toolbox can be produced in under an hour. dont forget the smaller you get the faster you go. i suspect if they were doing it on a nanoscale they would be doing it at several 100m atoms persecond. but we have very limited knowledge at this point so its all speculation.
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01-18-2010, 08:37 AM,
#5
RE: Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Tim
(11-14-2009, 02:48 AM)JazzRoc Wrote: Sounds great until you REALLY understand how small an atom is.
Even at the rate of thousands of atoms per second it would take centuries to build an aircraft, car, or rocket.

Isn't that why they're experimenting with Particle Accelerators ?
Marc "TheQleaner" Fisher
Unseen Head
The Illuminati Order

Novus Ordo Seclorum
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