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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Silicon Carbide Printed Structures

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

The plan is to design a process that will allow precision fabrication of SiC structures using a sterolithographty printer and an oven process to sinter the material to meet our space flight requirements, using similar techniques that I have used in the past working with a local vendor.  In the past, we created a process that allowed us to fabricate complex (but un-machinable) precision alumina oxide parts that flew on space flight projects.  The plan for this IRAD is to develop a similar process that works with SiC.  This technology can be used for many applications; one is as an optical support structure for the LISA project.  The LISA project has already been testing different materials that would provide a structure with a very low (stable) CTE and have good thermal conductance to assure accurate measurements over the project specified time.  Tests by the LISA project have shown that SiC would be an optimum material.  However, working with SiC (like Alumina Oxide) has shown that it is very difficult to fabricate parts.   We would like to work with a local vendor to source a sinterable SiC powder and resin formulation.  This material will be (3D printed) laser photo-cured to produce a green structure that can be de-binded followed by a sintering process.  Using sintering methods, we will iterate these processes to remove macro defects.   The goal of this proposal will be to build samples for visual inspection and to test CTE and strength.  Test parts will be tested in our GSFC code 544 labs, and the CTE tests will be conducted by the LISA project (already existing test setup).

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