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P R O C E S S E S |

N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R

2 0 1 5

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the metal during fabrication. Prior to

beginning work on the pieces destined

for space, technicians practiced their

process, refined their techniques, and

ensured proper tooling configurations

by welding together a pathfinder, a full-

scale version of the current spacecraft

design. NASA’s prime contractor for the

spacecraft, Lockheed Martin, is working

on the crew module at Michoud. The

number of welds for the crew module

was reduced by more than half since

the first test version of Orion’s primary

structure was constructed and flown

on the Exploration Flight Test-1 last

December. The Exploration Mission-1

structure will include just seven main

welds, reducing weight.



Discovery of a previously unknown

type of metal deformation called sinu-

ous flow could lead to more efficient

machining by reducing the force and

energy required to process metals, say

researchers at Purdue University, West

Lafayette, Ind. The team discovered the

phenomenon by using high-speed mi-

crophotography and analysis to study

what happens while cutting ductile

metals. They found that the metal is de-

formed into folds while it is being cut—

contrary to assumptions that metals

are sheared uniformly—and also that

sinuous flow can be controlled by sup-

pressing the folding behavior.

Results show that cutting force

can be reduced by 50% simply by paint-

ing the metal with a standard marking

ink. Because the painted layer is found

to suppress sinuous flow, not only can

energy consumption be reduced by

50%, but also machining can be done

faster and with improved surface qual-

ity, says Srinivasan Chandrasekar, pro-

fessor of industrial engineering. In one

set of experiments, only half of a sam-

ple was inked. When the cutting tool

reached the inked portion, the amount

of force dropped immediately by half.


Orion’s primary structure and the

order in which it will be welded

together. Courtesy of NASA.



Technicians at NASA’s Michoud As-

sembly Facility in New Orleans welded

together the first two segments of the

Orion crew module that will fly atop

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)

rocket on a mission beyond the moon.

The primary structure of Orion’s crew

module is made of seven large alumi-

numpieces thatmust bewelded togeth-

er. The first weld connects the tunnel to

the forward bulkhead, which houses

critical systems such as parachutes

that deploy during reentry. The tunnel

will allow workers to move between the

crew module and other spacecraft.

Toprepare forwelding, technicians

cleaned the segments, coated them

with a protective chemical, and primed

them. Next, each element was outfitted

with strain gauges and wiring to monitor

Sinuous flow, left, shows that metal is deformed into folds while it is being cut. New research,

right, reveals that cutting force can be reduced 50% by painting metal with a standardmark-

ing ink. Courtesy of Purdue.


H.C. Starck,

Germany, acquired a minority stake in

Metasphere Technology,

Sweden. Metasphere developed a new

technology for producing spherical metal powders for use in additive manufacturing and other fields. The companies

will build a new production line in Lulea, Sweden.


United Technologies Corp.,

Hartford, Conn., will sell its Sikorsky Aircraft business to

Lockheed Martin Corp.,

Bethesda, Md., for $9 billion in cash. The transaction is projected to close by year-end or in the first quarter of 2016.