SBIR Phase I: Innovative Selective Laser Sintering Rapid Manufacturing Technique Using Nanotechnology
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
Koo & Associates Internatinal, Inc.
6402 Needam Ln, Austin, TX, 78739
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will use a rapid manufacturing method to produce high performance structural components. This process will combine nanotechnology with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and a Rapid Prototyping (RP) additive layered build fabrication method. The use of SLS RP technique will facilitate true, flexible manufacturing of small batch of parts, while avoiding product-line tooling, under utilization of skilled labor and the need to maintain high overhead facilities costs. The SLS rapid manufacturing method will contribute to the concept of just in time manufacturing as well as lean manufacturing. Current thermoplastic polymer powders (Nylon 11 or Nylon 12) used in SLS are lacking in fire resistance and high strength/high heat resistance characteristics. It is anticipated that nanomodification of Nylon 11 will result in the expected polymer performance characteristics, i.e., fire resistance, high strength and high heat resistance for Nylon 11 and will expand the market opportunities for SLS users and Nylon 11 resin manufacturers. The broader impacts from this technology could be an unique, low specific gravity polymer powders (Nylon 11) that are fire-resistant, possess high strength and high heat resistance that ordinarily require large amounts of flame retardant additives as well as large amounts of reinforcing agents, and additives. The use of nanoparticles avoids the use of hazardous flame retardant additives such as halogenated or nitrogen/phosphorous materials, all of which contribute to smoke and toxicity when burning. Use of small amounts of nanoparticles (~7%) provides sufficient strength and heat resistance as compared to 20 to 30% conventional inorganic filler (glass fiber, mineral fiber, etc). The multifunctional characteristics of the nanoparticles could lead to low specific gravity polymer powders and substantial weight savings in finished part fabrication. This new rapid manufacturing method will be greatly embraced by SLS users who are qualified to provide parts to the U.S. Defense Industry. The ability to quickly and economically provide spare parts for aging legacy weapon systems through a seamless procurement mechanism of just in time could produce enormous cost savings.
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