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Qualifying Bulk Metallic Glass Gear Materials for Spacecraft ApplicationsNASA is evaluating bulk metallic glass (BMG) gears for extreme environment (cryogenic) applications; e.g., Europa Lander. The main purpose of this report is to recommend a quality assurance (QA) protocol for the production of consistent and reliable gear castings. Currently, there are two, separate manufacturers involved; Materion Corporation produces re-melt stock and Visser Precision Cast, Inc. produces BMG castings. Division of the existing alloy specifications document into material supplier-specific documents is proposed. Until a composition-based specification is established, processability- and performance-based methodologies may be an option during manufacturing development. It is recommended that each of the documents has a distinct focus; the processing behavior of crystalline feedstock, and the mechanical behavior of amorphous castings. The report addresses the “gray area” in QA testing between these materials suppliers by outlining an equitable division of responsibilities. The use of a number of dedicated reference dies to produce witness materials for physical and mechanical property evaluation is strongly recommended. Allocation of QA tests between screen testing of gear castings, and formal testing of witness materials, including cryogenic properties, is also proposed. The most effective suite of tests for both physical and mechanical property determination are down-selected from available national and international standards. The contents of this report create a solid basis for selection of QA tests, thereby setting the stage for negotiations between the materials suppliers and the customer.This technical paper:a) provides recommendations to advance materials specifications document JPL D-56223,Rev. A from “draft” to “preliminary” status;b) proposes division of the current document into two supplier-specific documents;c) separates testing methods by “ingots/castings” and “witness materials”;d) classifies test methodology based on “processability” and “performance”;e) assembles candidate ASTM specifications for “screen testing” and “formal testing”;f) identifies standard tests compatible with evaluation of BMG flexspline gears;g) suggests division of responsibilities for processability and performance testing; andh) addresses the QA “gray area” between production of ingots and castings.The report recommends that:a) processability- and performance-based QA methods might be used in lieu ofcompositional specifications during manufacturing development only;b) reference dies be designed for “acceptance” and “qualification” castings;c) witness materials provide physical and mechanical property data;d) formal testing be conducted at ambient and cryogenic temperatures; ande) processing/properties be correlated with compositional variations.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Publication (TP)
Hales, Stephen J. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Stegall, David E. (Analytical Mechanics Associates, Inc. Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
February 28, 2019
Publication Date
December 1, 2018
Subject Category
Metals and Metallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 228556.04.07.06
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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