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Optimization of Aluminum-Tin Ink Composition and Sintering in Atmospheric ConditionsThis study will focus on the basics of generating an aluminum-tin ink that can sinter in air and exhibits properties near that of a solid aluminum-tin alloy. Sintering temperatures will also be assessed in this study. Once the optimal aluminum ink composition is determined, the optimal ink thickness for homogeneous sintering must be determined by additional experimentation. Additive manufacturing is a rapidly developing and growing manufacturing process and has proven successful in many different ways. Processes, such as extrusion three-dimensional (3D) printing and selective laser melting (SLM), have proven to work but have limitations, such as material capabilities or density issues. SLM is a revolutionary process for additive manufacturing of metals but cannot be used in outer space due to the need for metallic powder which would diffuse into the atmosphere in a zero-gravity environment. For this reason, metallic ink additive manufacturing is a potential solution. Work is being done on metallic ink additive manufacturing in a vacuum for electrical applications. This project has focused on developing an aluminum-tin metallic ink that can sinter without the need of a vacuum or inert gas-purged atmosphere in order to prevent oxidation of the aluminum by adding flux. Once a potential ink composition has been determined through sintering of small disks and thin layers of ink, the ink may be studied with a multimaterial 3D printer at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in future experiments. If successful, this aluminum-tin ink will be capable for use on the International Space Station to make replacement parts quickly. Along with its zero-gravity advantages, this ink may also have applications on Earth because it may be extruded on a substrate with precise ceramic tips in a 3D printing process. This would allow the fabrication of precise, complex shapes and may generate a much faster and more efficient printing process as compared with traditional powder bed additive manufacturing processes. The process would not be limited by a small building volume because the system would not require an enclosed chamber.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Courtright, Z. S.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Hill, C. W.
(Jacobs Engineering and Science Services and Skills Augmentation Group (ESSSA) Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
May 11, 2019
Publication Date
May 1, 2019
Subject Category
Metals And Metallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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