Available Technology

A New Kind of Curing

A new curing method using automated tape placement (ATP) with electron beam (EB), or e-beam, produces a combination known as in situ e-beam curing. Through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Science Research Laboratory, Inc., created the in situ e-beam curing technique, which uses a low-energy electron beam gun to cure various composite materials. One important benefit is the technique's utilization of room temperature curing, which lessens the chance of mismatching the thermal expansion coefficients of different materials. For instance, metals and composites will expand at different rates when heated, but the low-energy e-beam gun reduces the expansion differential. Using a low-energy gun also results in less x-ray shielding, significantly reduced capital costs, reduced facility space, and increased processing capabilities for larger parts. However, using a low-energy gun also means that each tape layer is treated individually because the gun can penetrate only one layer at a time. The e-beam gun emits lower energy x-rays, which are more easily shielded than those emitted by previous guns. The low-energy system is relatively portable due to its light weight and small size. The gun weighs about 70 pounds and can be easily mounted on a robotic arm or an ATP head.
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