Adaptive structures actuated by shape memory alloys (SMAs) have generated significant interest at NASA Glenn Research Center (High Temperature & Smart Alloys Branch) and two Ohio-based Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) directorates (Aerospace Systems and also Materials & Manufacturing).
The team collaborated with colleagues at NASA and AFRL to address the fundamental research questions to realize these structures. More specifically the team created the building blocks to develop bio-inspired articulating aerospace structure with embedded actuators by pioneering the use of additively manufactured high temperature shape memory alloys. These developments have the capacity to revolutionize the functionality, efficiency and performance of aerospace systems for both federal and industrial needs. More specifically, this research directly supports the goals of the 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps Technology Area (TA) 12: Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems, and Manufacturing. The key benefit of these materials, as articulated in the TA 12.1.3 Flexible Material Systems, is to provide “shape-morphing materials for a variety of applications, i.e., control surfaces, deployable reentry vehicles, expandable habitats, and deformable mirrors.” Additionally, the research advances near-net-shape manufacturing, in alignment with a key goal in TA 12.4.1 Manufacturing Processes in near-net-shape manufacturing.
The team succeeded in producing high temperature shape memory elements using additive manufacturing.
The project funding created five jobs in the form of graduate student and postdoctoral researcher during the execution period of the grant. A total of more than 1 million dollars in follow on funding has been received. Three spinouts were formed to commercialize the technology developed and enhanced in this project.
The model served the objectives of the project well and aligned the researcher to better address the future research needs of the federal agencies.