4. PRODUCTS AND MARKETS
In order to survive in the harsh environments
of space and other planets, humans need a variety of special structures,
including pressure vessels, shelters, and solar panels. Many of these are
composed of simple shapes that are efficiently manufactured using ASIís
acoustic shaping technology, such as:
ASIís manufacturing techniques in microgravity
can also be used to manufacture a number of products for use on Earth:
Space-Station outer and interior
panels: Large, flat- and curved-wall structures play a major part
in human space exploration. These panel shapes are ideally suited to ASI
technology, both in fabrication and in design/analysis/simulation.
Heat Shields: Lunar regolith
provides excellent raw material for sintering operations using acoustic
shaping, to develop re-entry heat shields to be attached to spacecraft
in orbit. This can cut the launch weight from earth enough to make a substantial
difference to the payload, and thus to the per-pound launch costs.
nozzles made of high-temperature materials are vital for gas-based space
thrusters. Earth-based launch weight and frontal-area drag in atmospheric
flight drive the design of these nozzles at present, constraining them
to operate far below ideal efficiency. Space-fabricated nozzles obviate
these problems. ASI has the expertise in gas/plasma dynamics, materials,
aerothermodynamics, and mathematical modeling to construct these for future
space propulsion systems.
Pre-fabricated, pressurized habitation
modules: The technical
issues are the same as those of space station panels. As the industry develops,
habitation modules will represent a standardized mass market, justifying
ASI diversification into the other technologies involved in providing complete,
Plumbing components: As
curved surface fabrication becomes standardized, plumbing systems will
be mass-produced using ASI technology.
Pressure vessels: Again,
the technical issues are similar to those of habitation modules.
Suitability of acoustically-formed objects
for space applications:
Composite Part Manufacturing: ASI
can virtually eliminate the cost of tool design for composite parts, as
well as eliminate the thermal problems of molds and jigs encountered in
Earth-based manufacturing. Though the use of non-contact manufacturing,
rapid and flexible automation of prototypes is enabled, resulting in quicker
turnaround time for space based operations. Thus it is possible that, with
reliable access to launch facilities, space-based composite manufacturing
may one day be able to compete with Earth-based manufacturing, even for
Pharmaceuticals, Crystals, Semiconductors:
All such industries can benefit from the technology of ASI.
The real issues here are:
Data on lunar materials is abundant, and
the feasibility of making building materials from these is good [Lin, 1987a&b].
These issues are typical of the beginning of the next aerospace construction
industry: the cultural uncertainties are similar to those of adapting horse-cart,
railway and ship-building technologies to the new field of aircraft construction
in the early 20th century. ASI's Advisory Board includes authorities
in advanced materials technology and computational mechanics, along with
the radical thinking of biomedical structural applications, precisely to
address these exciting issues.
Variety and cost of materials obtained
from the Moon, from Phobos, and from asteroids.
Performance of epoxies, melts and other
binding mechanisms in acoustic fields.
Cost of adapting the PCAST chambers to
various types of material processing.
The cost and extent of pre-and post-processing
required for each application.
Extension to other forms of manufacturing
ASI aims to lead the Space
construction industry. The initial reason for confidence is the ready availability
of Acoustic Shaping technology. With revenues generated from this, ASI
will diversify to add other technologies as opportunities arise. For example,
the synergy between bioengineering and microgravity construction may lead
to radically different methods of "growing" structures. Pure crystal growth
is already seen as a major industry for microgravity; again this may be
absorbed into our technologies. Moreover, we conceptualize that such a
method could be used in conjunction with hollow aluminum or aluminum oxide
spheres and a bonding, reinforcing epoxy-resin to form regular, virtually
perfect spheres, cylinder, curved walls, straight walls, and many other
complex shapes simply through the alteration of the resonant field.
Plans for Future Manufacturing Application Research
Plans for future work include:
Further development of technology and
processes involved therein
Acquiring epoxy-resins for use in manufacturing
Currently researching possibility of using
several types of resins as our medium
UV Curable---Epoxies, Etc.ó60-7010 &
60-7010-2 (each cures in 5 seconds under 300W/in^2 UV light
Heat Curable---Cape Composites---Cape
2000 & 3000 series of resins
Various CAís and epoxy coating systems