Increasingly novel materials applications are emerging to provide lightweight thermal management functions in aircraft (such as the Boeing Dreamliner) and oher applications. One example is a metal matrix composite developed by a company called CPS Technologies in Norton, MA. In a typical component, a silicon carbide structure is formed in a plunger-type, low-pressure injection molding machine that uses a carrier feedstock that freezes near zero C. The carrier is removed by a phase management sublimation in which the carrier never becomes a liquid. The product can then either be sintered or infiltrated with material such as aluminum.
CPS says that AlSiC produces hermetic packaging that is much lighter than CuMo and CuW, yet has similar thermal conductivity and expansion coefficient. It also costs less.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
German engineering firm EDAG Group showed a single-piece, 3D-printed car body design inspired by a turtle at the Geneva Motor Show. It came about after an assessment of how additive manufacturing could be applied to making industrial components, modules, and complete vehicle bodies.
Some of the biggest self-assembled building blocks and structures made from engineered DNA have been developed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute. The largest, a hexagonal prism, is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium.
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