AMS Spring 2023

NASA Phase II STTR Grant: PADT, KSU and ASU Collaboration on Bio-inspired Structures for NASA

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Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT) will be collaborating with Arizona State University (ASU) and Kennesaw State University (KSU) in the development of stronger, more lightweight structures for space exploration. Together they have been chosen for a $755,000 NASA Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant—a continuation from the $127,000 Phase I grant awarded to PADT and ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in August 2018.

In this joint effort, PADT, ASU, and KSU have announced in a recent press release sent to 3DPrint.com that they will be creating a simulation tool for lattice structures in aerospace vehicles. This tool is expected to assist in each phase of designing, virtually testing, and optimizing the structures, with 3D printed simulations to be 3D printed for testing prototypes in the final evaluation process. Production grade components will also be 3D printed, with the possibility for use on spacecraft.

PADT, ASU, and KSU may be deriving some of their inspiration from nature too, like so many other scientists, artists, designers, and researchers around the globe. Drawing from the example of honeycomb structures from a beehive, the team may be able to learn from the natural strength and lightweight elements, using them to create suitable shapes and spacing in lattice structures for aerospace applications. Their goal now is to create a design tool that combines properties like strength and density with the proper topology and parameter optimization necessary. Due to advancements in both science and technology today, the research team expects to design a bio-inspired geometry previously not possible with conventional methods.

“ASU has become a leader in the advancement of additive manufacturing, and we are continually discovering new ways to solve engineering challenges with this technology,” said Kyle Squires, Ph.D., dean, Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University. “The NASA Phase II STTR grant allows us to use simulation and 3D printing to explore bio-inspired structures to innovate how NASA designs and manufactures its spacecrafts.”

Ultimately, PADT also plans to market a commercial software product as a culmination of the innovative research project with ASU. They will also be responsible for including cellular material data in NASA’s PeTal platform, adding experimental results, analysis of their findings, and 3D printed metal demonstration artifacts.

“We’re proud to win this Phase II STTR because it furthers our coordination with the Fulton Schools and requires the use of our three main areas of expertise: 3D printing, simulation and product development,” said Alex Grishin, Ph.D., consulting engineer, PADT. “As an Elite ANSYS channel partner, we also have the skillset needed to embed our solution in the ANSYS simulation tool, saving a lot of time and effort. Improving aerospace innovation is always an exciting prospect, and our team is uniquely qualified to apply our expertise to develop disruptive technology for NASA.”

The new tool may also allow for the fabrication of materials like:

  • Heat shields
  • Acoustic liners
  • Space debris resistant skins
  • Lightweight panels
  • Conformal, structural heat exchangers

“This research project is a great example of government, academic institutions and the private sector working together to provide practical solutions for the space industry,” said Ji Mi Choi, associate vice president, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Arizona State University. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with NASA, PADT and KSU as we discover new ways to apply 3D printing and simulation to real-world challenges.”

This grant marks PADT’s 16th STTR/SBIR grant since it opened in 1994. To learn more about PADT, click here.

From acquiring new businesses connected with 3D printing to other enormous projects with other 3D printing industry leaders, PADT continues as a force in the engineering products and services realm, serving customers with numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing solutions. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: PADT press release]

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