Tooling-Free MMC Casting by Combining 3-D Printing of Ceramic Preforms, Low Porosity Castable Refractory Investment Compound and Advanced Pressure Inf

Period of Performance: 03/24/2000 - 03/23/2002

$998K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Metal Matrix Cast Composites, LLC (dba M
101 Clematis Avenue, Unit #1
Waltham, MA 02453
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

Abstract

Manufacturing metal matrix composite part directly from CAD file, utilizing MIT's 3-DP and MMCC's Tool-less Mold and Advanced Pressure Infiltration Processes (APIC) is proposed. Like wax patterns, the printed preforms will be invested in the Tool-less Mold compound. The invested preforms are then selectively infiltrated utilizing the APIC process. Since molds are not required, constituent materials are low cost alloy stock and abrasive grade ceramic reinforcement, and mold materials are recycled, the process will be cheaper than sand or die casting. Further, the time from initial prototype design to full scale manufacturing will be reduced to a few weeks. The project objective is to develop a rapid prototyping/rapid manufacturing process that is cheaper than die and sand casting but produces a material with the properties of a high quality metal matrix composite. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop 3 DP for SiCp, B4Cp and A12O3 preforms; 2) Demonstrate control of volume fraction reinforcement in 3DP preforms; 3) Optimize strength and toughness in the final composite; 4) Evaluate low cost mold material; 5) Develop materials recovery system for recycling mold material; 6) Demonstrate technology by manufacturing Navy-KEW Seeker Missile components and a rocket pump housing; 7) Demonstrate cost effectiveness of process. Complex parts for BMDO applications will be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of machined parts. Beryllium and AlBeMet will be replaced by cast DRA parts at a fraction of the cost. The technology developed on this project can be transferred to commercial casting where it will be competitive with standard sand and die casting.