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Improving Ion Engine Optics Through Additive Manufacturing

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC23PB548
Agency Tracking Number: 231753
Amount: $149,999.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: Z10
Solicitation Number: SBIR_23_P1
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-07-26
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-02-02
Small Business Information
200 Clinton Ave., Suite 600
Huntsville, AL 35801-4918
United States
DUNS: 080933118
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Joseph Sims
 (256) 801-3128
Business Contact
 Joseph Sims
Phone: (256) 801-3128
Research Institution

Quadrus Advanced Manufacturing, LLCnbsp;is pleased to present this Phase I proposal in which we present a plan to demonstrate the feasibility of using additive manufacturingnbsp;to produce gridded ion engine optics from W-24Re. This refractory alloy promises to simultaneously improve engine life, increase structural reliability, and reduce overall manufacturing cost and lead time. The improvements we seek to demonstrate is enabled by our proven W-24Re manufacturing process, selective laser melting, which is an important emerging manufacturing approach that is proven to reduce lead time and cost, particularly for complex geometries and/or difficult-to-machine materials like W-24Re.nbsp; Our proposed change in the material selection and manufacturing of the optics is the first of several planned improvements that will enable widespread adoption of GIE in future spacecraftnbsp;through drastic reductions in cost and lead time.Our AM W-24Re manufacturing solution provides several benefits.W-24Re has higher strength and higher elastic modulus than Mo, yet can still be formed, whichnbsp;improves structural reliability and aperture alignment.W-24Re has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than Mo, which improvesnbsp;aperture alignment.W-24Re naturally enjoys better resistance to sputter erosion than Mo, which improves engine operational life.L-PBF can already achieve geometries at least equivalent to, if not better than, every engine design to have ever flown, which means it is a practical solution today.L-PBF manufactures components directly from the CAD model, with consistent apertures regardless of grid thickness and no cusps that occur during photochemical machining, which improves grid performance.L-PBF manufactures even highly complex grids in mere hours, eliminating the significant cost and lead time of carbon-carbon material acquisition, chemical vapor deposition, and final machining, with no need for mandrels of any kind.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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