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The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Automated Dynamics of Schenectady, NY, USA for Phase I of the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
The program, which is run in three phases, offers small businesses the opportunity to propose ideas for fulfilling specific research and developmental needs of NASA as they pursue future exploration. Consideration is given to technical feasibility, innovation, and experience as well as the potential commercialization of the proposed idea.Automated Dynamics (ADC), a specialist in automated carbon-fiber placement technology and the creation of complex composite structures, will begin work on a project revolving around lightweight materials and structures and advanced manufacturing and assembly. Critical to NASA’s missions, technologies that will allow for reduced mass, improved performance, decreased costs, and material scalability will be emphasized in the project.Specifically, ADC will focus efforts on their sophisticated laser based heating system used in the automated fiber placement (AFP) of thermoplastic composite (TPC) structures. The result, in-situ TPC AFP, is an additive manufacturing process for high-performance composite designs; a true out-of-autoclave (OoA) process. The system enables processing speeds three to five times faster than traditional methods of utilizing a hot gas torch or infrared lamp, and aids in simplifying the manufacturing process as a whole. In addition, significant cost savings are achieved through a near 70% reduction in energy consumption from the removal of an oven, autoclave, and freezer from the process while the laser heating system nets a further 80% energy savings in contrast to hot-gas based methods. With the ability to create a lighter, more durable structure through the use of thermoplastic materials while still cutting production time, ADC’s technology has few limits in its application to NASA’s needs.Automated Dynamics’ project was chosen from a list of highly competitive proposals, and demonstrates their leadership and innovation in the composites field. Their unique process and cutting-edge manufacturing technology enable Automated Dynamics to consistently challenge the frontiers of composite structures and lead in the push for automated carbon-fiber production.More information: www.automateddynamics.com