Almost any material can be metalized and coated without solvents in an interesting new technology from Germany that will be on display at K 2010. Materials treated by patented “plasmadust” technology from Reinhausen Plasma GmbH include plastics, metals, silicon disks, glass, foil or even paper.
Using atmospheric pressure, plasma technology is combined with micro- or nanopowders to allow direct-coating, VOC-free processes. A low-temperature (120 - 250 C) plasma gas is generated with a pulsed arcing gas discharge. The coating of a substrate of one square meter requires 1/10 to 1/100 of the power required by thermal plasma injection processes.
Among the applications are plasma and laser sintering, solar cell wafer metallization, and the manufacturing of thin-film batteries and fuel cells.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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