SBIR Phase I: Efficient structural mass from microstructural design

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

MetCel LLC
101 business building
stillwater, OK 74078
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes high specific strength composite sandwich panels using a new form of manufacturing, tailored for Amorphous Metal Honeycomb (AMH) cores. Previously it was impossible to form these alloys as honeycombs since they do not behave like crystalline metals. Yet, amorphous metals offer mechanical properties far beyond other materials. With the patent-pending technology developed by our team, metallic glass honeycombs can now be manufactured. However, the added mass resulting from the current method of adhesive bonding of cells has been a limiting factor in achieving maximal specific strength of the panels. New options are needed to accurately hold and form individual cells. One option is heat fusing the cells, but this method can lead to solidification shrinkage, crystallization induced embrittlement, and surface cracking. This Phase I work will focus on the use of welding as an inter-cellular joining technique, and will also investigate alternative methods for forming AMH cores. Research objectives for the Phase I work include the design and development of a customized processing method that can form AMH panels using an automated manufacturing process. A novel pre-processing route for AMR precursors to form curvatures and contours on resulting AMH panels will also be developed. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes a scalable bottom-up manufacturing approach, the first of its kind, resulting in materials with unprecedented specific strength for their density. An immediate market for AMH is already identified in the aerospace sector. Low cost composite materials are finding increased use in both civil and military aircraft. A lightweight sandwich construction having high specific strength and impact mitigating properties can optimize the upfront airframe design. Low-cost and more rapid manufacturing techniques will also enable new and innovative designs, in addition to enhancing airframe cost versus weight trade-offs. The achievable specific strengths of AMH will improve the efficiency of aircraft through reduced mass as well a reduction in fuel requirements. Most importantly, in the short term it can offer additional structural protection against catastrophic failures caused by bird strikes or similar impact damage. Mechanical energy absorbers in the automobile industry, ballistic protection in the personal and vehicle armor industry, heat exchangers, and sporting goods (such as surfboards) are some of the other potential applications of these materials.