Development of novel manufacturing processes for structures with superior mechanical properties has long been identified as some of the critical needs for NASA. This includes multifunctional high-strength metallic components, high level of functional integration, reduction in part numbers, drastic reduction in required machining and welding, increased reliability, lower cost and faster lead times. Our proposed project specifically addresses these issues. Thermoplastically net shaped BMG structures through blow-molding will fulfill these needs. Furthermore, the net-shape ability allows reduction of components, joints, costs and weight. It also enables multifunctional structures through integration of sensors, keys, and feedthroughs into BMG articles. This is achieved due to exceptional strength and elasticity of BMGs, as well as novel processing methods, developed and patented by Prof. Schroers at Yale and Supercool Metal. Specifically, for Phase I of the project, we will target net shaping and fabrication of multifunctional BMG structures with sizes suitable for small satellites,but this technology has broader implications on structural space applications in general.
Combining the properties of best structural metals with the processability of thermoplastics brings unique opportunities that will have a vast impact in a broad range of industries. Net shaping of BMGs is highly attractive for electronic casings, defense (armor), aerospace, automotive, watches, and biomedical industries. Currently, Supercool Metals has several contracts with large commercial companies in the watch industry for production of prototype watch movement components based on our TPF net shaping and molding processes. We are also working with electronics companies on development of casings for mobile phones and laptops and with aerospace companies on replacement of Ti-based components.