STTR Phase I: Rapid Freeze Prototyping of Investment Cast Thin Wall Metal Matrix Composites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007

$150K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

O'Fallon Casting
600 Cannonball Lane, 6745 HOLLISTER AVENUE
O'Fallon, MO 63366
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Missouri Rolla
301 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Institution POC

Abstract

The Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project will determine the feasibility of thin-wall pattern production by rapid freeze prototyping (RFP) and the feasibility of investment casting with thin-wall ice patterns. The overall goal of the project then is to use RFP in conjunction with investment casting to produce thin-wall metal matrix composites. RFP is a novel solid freeform fabrication process that builds a three dimensional ice part according to a CAD model by depositing and rapidly freezing water in a layer-by-layer manner. Advantages of the RFP, when compared to existing commercial solid freeform fabrication processes include: fine surface finish, good dimensional accuracy, low energy consumption, and ease of pattern removal in casting and molding applications. The proposed research will extend composite casting technology from the currently available wall thickness of 0.4-0.6mm down to less than 0.3mm. Rapid freeze prototyping in conjunction with investment casting to produce thin-wall metal matrix composites (MMC) would be a competitive niche technology compared to alternatives for production of high stiffness, lightweight, and thin-walled or intricately shaped components in low volume for both military and commercial applications.