SBIR Phase I: Large-Scale Production of Non-Ferrous Metal Fibers by Modulation-Assisted Machining

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
M4 Sciences LLC
1800 Woodland Avenue, West Lafayette, IN, 47906
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
James Mann
(765) 479-6215
Business Contact:
James Mann
(765) 479-6215
Research Institution:
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will demonstrate a new way to produce metal fibers in materials such as titanium and aluminum alloys using a special machining process known as Modulation-Assisted Machining or MAM. The most widely adopted method for producing metal fibers is a multi-step wire drawing process, where small diameter wires are drawn from a metal billet and subsequently cut into discrete lengths. However, this process is limited to materials that can be drawn into wires and the capital equipment costs are high and related infrastructure requirements complex. The MAM process has evolved from research at Purdue University and has demonstrated the potential to radically change the capacity and flexibility of metal fiber production while simultaneously achieving a lower cost. By using the MAM process, fibers can be machined directly from metal bars. The project objectives include: 1) Produce aluminum alloy and titanium fibers using MAM; 2) Characterize the effects of MAM parameters on fiber geometry and microstructure; 3) Measure the strength of fibers produced by MAM; and, 4) demonstrate fiber production scale-up concepts. This is expected to enhance the application of MAM to a viable process for production of metal fibers. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that MAM processes will enable a method for production of metal fibers in virtually any metal alloy system. MAM could offer a new, low-cost method to produce fibers that are difficult or impossible to create using existing technology. The commercial potential for this project lies in the design and development of special modulation devices that adapt MAM technology for fiber-making using a CNC machine tool rather than a complex manufacturing plant. The extension of MAM technology into materials production will increase the market space for M4 Sciences products and increase commercial and research activity in the total market. Increased commercial impact also lies in the development of advanced metal fiber materials produced by MAM. These new metal fibers are expected to lead to commercial opportunities for the company's modulation devices for the production of metal fiber-based products and composite material systems that improve our quality of life. MAM could transform current machining technology from a process traditionally used to produce discrete parts with specific geometry to a process that produces advanced materials. Equally important, the proposed research will further the understanding of the effects of modulation on energy efficiency of machining processes.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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