TA&T Ceramic Stereolithographically Produced Parts Integral to Instrument Package on NASA Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover

Annapolis, MD – November 29, 2011 – Ceramic Stereolithography (CSL), a unique manufacturing process developed by Technology Assessment and Transfer, Inc. (TA&T) under multiple SBIR and internally funded programs, was used to make ceramic heater bodies that are onboard the recently launched Mars rover named Curiosity.


Contracted by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, TA&T fabricated alumina pyrolysis oven housings that are being used in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments. Patrick Jordan, a NASA engineer, explained that due to the complex nature of the housing, traditional machining of the ceramic was too expensive to undertake. The major impediment to machining the housing is a series of 52 closely spaced, small diameter (.012”) holes through which heating elements are placed. Impressively, the CSL process was able to create fully functional prototypes that survived the rapid heating to >1,000°C. The parts passed thermal shock and thermal cycle durability testing, and will be used on Mars to heat soil samples to determine the presence of water and organic compounds that indicate the possibility of life on Mars.


The CSL process has applications beyond space exploration, including those which have consumer and industrial applications. The process requires no tooling and therefore allows rapid prototyping of fully-functional ceramic parts. TA&T has been involved in the development of rocket engine fuel injectors, heat exchangers for cooling electronics in hybrid electric vehicles, ceramic molds for turbine engine blades, and electrosurgical medical device tips, among other development projects.


Photographs of the TA&T produced ceramic heater housing for the Mars Science Laboratory can be found in the Ceramic Stereolithography gallery.

 

Additional information about the Mars Science Laboratory mission can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html.

 

Ta&T news

TA&T Part of Team to Improve EMP Protection

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)/SCC announces the beginning of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with Instant Access Networks, LLC (IAN) and its subcontractors as of March 28, 2016 entitled, “Accelerating Society-wide EMP Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Micro-grids”. DTRA’s request for proposals (RFP) was an invitation to small businesses to participate in a commercial R&D program to create EMP protected micro grids for critical infrastructure needed both on and off military bases and other defense critical infrastructure.  The need was explained by DTRA as follows: “An electromagnetic (EM) attack (nuclear electromagnetic pulse [EMP] or non-nuclear EMP [e.g., high-power microwave, HPM]) has the potential to degrade or shut down portions of the electric power grid important to the DoD….  Restoring the commercial grid from the still functioning regions may not be possible or could take weeks or months.” 

 

A key task on this contract is to demonstrate how to accelerate the adoption of EMP-protected critical infrastructure and microgrids among civilian institutions that need to operate in island mode during a prolonged power outage.   These critical suppliers to military bases include water utilities, hospitals, and emergency communications.  The final report would include proposals for additional research in the improvement of component technologies that comprise an EMP-protected microgrid such as EMP shielding, energy generation, energy storage and energy savings technology.  Those improvements can lead to performance and cost advantages that could make these microgrids competitive with grid provided power in some areas of the country and more easily funded in every location.

 

IAN set its own goal to gather collaborators who will fund EMP protected microgrids for water utilities, hospitals and emergency operations centers so that they don’t have to find funds out of their capital budgets.  Fairfax Water, a subcontractor to IAN in this contract, is a great example because of its critical role to many defense critical infrastructure applications in the national capital region and because of the attractive electricity rates it enjoys.  Fairfax Water supplies Fort Belvoir and the surrounding areas with 163 million gallons of water per day.  Though Fairfax Water  lies outside the base, it is essential for base operations but likely to be vulnerable to  EMP because of its dependence on civilian power grids that are not protected from EMP even though the local utility in this instance is otherwise extremely reliable.  Protecting civilian infrastructure such as Fairfax Water is just as important as protecting the critical applications on the base.

 

IAN developed EMP-protected microgrids that included solar, wind and diesel power generation and control rooms independently tested to exceed military standards for EMP by 1000 fold.  IAN subcontractors include Technology Assessment and Transfer (TA&T), a materials science R&D firm that will provide technical assistance on electromagnetic shielding materials and components of energy storage systems; DC Fusion/ Power Analytics that will provide support for direct current microgrids and modeling software for the design and management of microgrids; Jaxon Engineering and Maintenance who will provide EMP testing support and EMP shielding manufacturing guidance; and Fairfax Water, who will provide water utility management guidance.

Corporate Headquarters

133 Defense Hwy, Suite 212
Annapolis, MD 21401
Ph: 410.224.3710
Fx: 410.224.4678
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Larry Fehrenbacher, President
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sharon Fehrenbacher, CEO
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Research & Manufacturing Facilities

Advanced Ceramics & Coatings
3D Printing of Ceramics
Thermal Management

1110 Benfield Blvd., Suite Q
Millersville, MD 21108
410-987-3435
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Spinel & Optical Ceramics
215 Najoles Road
Millersville, MD 21108

410-987-1656
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Memberships and Certifications

U.S. Small Business Administration certified
Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)

Alliance Member of the National Center
for Defence Manufacturing and Machining

Member of the Electro-Optics Alliance