Materials and Manufacturing

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Materials and Manufacturing: Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio - The Materials and Manufacturing Directorate develops new materials, processes and manufacturing technologies for use in aerospace applications. This includes aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets and ground-based systems and their structural, electronic and optical components. With a host of modern materials and analysis laboratories, the directorate also provides quick reaction support and real time solutions to Air Force weapon system acquisition offices, field organizations and maintenance depots to solve materials related concerns and problems. The Directorate plans, executes and integrates advanced manufacturing technology programs and affordability initiatives addressing manufacturing process technologies, computer integrated manufacturing and excellence through design for military needs. The directorate is also responsible for the Air Force technology programs that address environmental issues and provides materials expertise for airbase assets such as runways and infrastructures and technologies for aerospace expeditionary forces.

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Aircraft Operating Surfaces Team Aids Haitian Earthquake Recovery

AFRL materials experts created a chemical rubber removal system that safely and effectively removed dangerous buildup from a Port-au-Prince airport used during the Haitian earthquake recovery effort.

Butterfly Biology Inspires New Sensing Capability

A collaboration of AFRL, General Electric (GE), and academic researchers are leveraging the chemical sensing properties of butterflies to develop nanostructured photonic sensors that, if implemented, would not only enable faster and more selective detection of dangerous chemical warfare agents and explosives, but also expedite the development of responsive materials for countering the harmful entities.

Ferroelectric Nanoparticle Discovery Greatly Enhances Optical Materials

AFRL researchers have developed the world's smallest ferroelectric nanoparticles. Ferroelectricity refers to the property of certain materials possessing a spontaneous polarization in which the electric dipole orientation can be controlled by an electric field.

I Am AFRL - Jennifer Fielding

The most innovative and advanced manufacturing technologies in the world.

IVAN [the] Not So Terrible for Mundane/Risky Routines

A successful demonstration of unmanned air/ground robotics and collaborative command and control/integrated defense practices proved the viable use of the lab's Immediate Visual Assessment and Neutralization (IVAN) unmanned ground vehicle for maintaining perimeter security.

Lab Demonstrates Robotic Ground Refueling of Aircraft

AFRL engineers successfully demonstrated a prototype of the lab-developed Automated Aircraft Ground Refueling (AARG) system, which leverages robotics technology and, in turn, significantly improves the safety of personnel engaged in aircraft ground refueling activities.

Lab Gets It "Write" with Novel Manufacturing Methods

In leveraging direct-write (DW) manufacturing methods-most recently, one known as Mesoscale Maskless Material Deposition (M3D)-AFRL materials experts are promoting advances in new metamaterial structures and multifunctional, hybrid materials.

Lab Shares a Stake in Better Military Tents

AFRL teamed with North Carolina State University and Armacell, LLC, to develop a cost-effective method for manufacturing better military tents. The materials integration approach results in a well-insulated, fire-resistant tent that is lighter-weight, less expensive, and more durable than tents made from conventional fabrics.

Lab Supplies "Rx" for Carbon Nanotube Growth

AFRL headed a research team internationally recognized for its groundbreaking discovery of chemical vapor deposition (CVD)-based growth mechanisms for single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT), which are key elements for an ever-increasing number of important technical applications. The Materials and Manufacturing Directorate - led team was the first to connect catalyst changes to carbon nanotube growth mechanisms, a breakthrough expanding scientific understanding of the growth process and subsequently prompting dramatic improvements in SWNT length, yield, performance, and cost.

Materials Innovation Amplifies Terahertz Power and Performance

The Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (RX)-lead team was the first to connect catalyst changes to carbon nanotube growth mechanisms, a breakthrough expanding scientific understanding of the growth process and subsequently prompting dramatic improvements in single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) length, yield, performance, and cost.

Materials and Manufacturing Know-How Bests Failed Breakers

AFRL materials engineers identified the root cause of circuit breaker failure in KC-135 aircraft and provided a viable solution to check-and, as necessary, replace- the problematic components in nearly 400 aircraft.

Multidisciplinary Team Dishes Up Portable SatComm Device

A multidisciplinary AFRL/industry team developed a man-packable satellite dish that lightens the load but maintains communications reliability for field personnel.

Nanocomposites May Allow Morphing Material Applications

A team from the Air Force Research Laboratory is investigating a new series of stimuli-responsive nancomposites, which change their mechanical properties when exposed to electric fields and electromagnetic radiation.

New Composite Material Skins the HTE Competition

Through its implementation of a new hot trailing edge (HTE) skin composed of AFR?PE?4, a composite material, AFRL expects to virtually eliminate field repairs, reduce downtime, and achieve higher mission capability rates for B-2 aircraft.

New Firefighting System Three Times More Effective Than Previous Method

Air Force Research Laboratory researchers have developed ultra-high pressure (UHP) firefighting technology that is three times more effective than conventional capability and increases the length of time firefighting vehicle can remain on scene.

Patented NDE Method Detects Incipient Damage

In developing a new nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technique for characterizing heat-induced damage in composite materials, AFRL scientist have helped to evolve Air Force systems maintenance to a condition-based (improved), rather than schedule-based (outdated), routine. The novel technique-- leverages acousto-thermal technology and recently earned researchers a patent entitled "Non-contact Thermo-elastic Property Measurement and Imaging System for Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation of Materials". It also demonstrates potential in characterizing fatigue and plastic deformation before cracking occurs in metallic materials.

Process Maturation Helps Solar Cells Shine

AFRL's Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Division enabled key improvements in the critical performance, mass, and volume of warfighter-specific satellite payloads.

Researchers Develop Groundbreaking Flexible Solar Cell Technique

A groundbreaking research technique demonstrated by the Air Force Research Laboratory detects performance variability at a microscopic scale during operation of flexible solar cells.

Wet Paint No Barrier to Timely, Accurate Measure of Coating Thickness

A newly demonstrated technology providing the first-ever nondestructive means to measure the thickness of specialty paint coatings during their application will generate substantial savings for the Air Force. An AFRL materials engineering team successfully demonstrated the integration of a paint spray robot with a sensor-specifically, a miniature Class I, Division 1-compliant time domain (TD) terahertz (THz) sensor- for real-time cure monitoring of coating materials as they are applied to aircraft surfaces.