NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 X4.06-9473
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Composite Structures - Manufacturing
PROPOSAL TITLE: Carbon Foam Self-Heated Tooling for Out-of-Autoclave Composites Manufacturing

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millennium Centre, 1142 Middle Creek Road
Triadelphia, WV 26059 - 1139
(304) 547-5800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Rick D. Lucas
The Millennium Centre, 1142 Middle Creek Road
Triadelphia, WV 26059 - 1139
(304) 547-5800

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd. (Touchstone) has developed a novel and innovative Out-of-Autoclave (OOA) composites manufacturing process with an electrically heated carbon foam tooling system. Electrically Heated Tooling (EHT) utilizes a coal-based carbon foam (CFOAMREG) core that serves as both the tool substrate and the heating source for a composite part being cured. The tool heating is a result of flowing current through the carbon foam, which results in heating. This approach to self-heated tooling is a potentially enabling technology for manufacturing large composite structures by eliminating the need for autoclaves and large curing ovens, as well as by reducing costs, weight, and improving composite part quality.

The overall objective of the NASA Phase 2 program will be to optimize critical factors for thermal uniformity in a CFOAM Electrically Heated Tool (EHT) and to validate the electrically heated cure process with current state-of-the-art OOA materials. The data generated will be used to produce a Scaled Composite Shroud (SCS) cylindrical mandrel EHT that will be designed, fabricated, tested, and used to cure a large composite part without an autoclave or oven. The SCS demonstration tool will be up to an 8' diameter and 12' length mandrel, which will be approximately one-forth of the scale as a tool necessary for an ARES V composite structure.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Carbon Foam Electrically Heated Tooling (EHT) has direct application for NASA programs that involve manufacturing large composite structures in an out-of-autoclave (OOA) process. Programs such as the ARES V Heavy Launch Vehicle as well as the ARES I Crew Launch Vehicle are utilizing composite materials in order to maintain weight efficiency. Manufacturing composites OOA with a CFOAM EHT will maintain process cost efficiency while keeping weights low. The EHT technology application is not limited to large structures, however, and does have utility for any NASA component made from composite materials.

Specifically, on ARES V, the Composite Payload Shroud, the Composite Interstage, and the Composite Structures of both the Core Stage and the Earth Departure Stage are all targeted applications for CFOAM EHT technology. On ARES I, the Composite Frustrum of the First Stage, the Composite Interstage structures, and others are also applications for CFOAM EHT technology. Composite components of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle are another application of EHT cure process.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Carbon Foam Electrically Heated Tooling (EHT) also has several commercial applications in the commercial and defense industry, which also share NASA's issue of manufacturing composite structures in an out-of-autoclave environment. These industries also rely heavily on composite material to maintain low-weight and high-strength designs. Touchstone is actively working with prime contractors and DoD agencies such as the Air Force and Missile Defense Agency to utilize CFOAM tooling technology. Programs that can potentially benefit from CFOAM EHT development are the SM3, THAAD, and KEI missile systems along with other commercial aerospace programs. Aerospace applications that will benefit from OOA EHT technology development include helicopter blade spars, missile fairings, airplane fuselage sections, and numerous others.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Launch and Flight Vehicle
Multifunctional/Smart Materials

Form Generated on 08-03-09 13:26