MicroCast: Additive Manufacturing of Metal Plus Insulator Structures with Sub-mm Features

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$120K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Made in Space, Inc.
DE
Wilmington, DE 19801
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32816
Institution POC

Abstract

A novel method for fabricating electronics containing both metals and polymers can be adapted to quickly and effectively produce micro-well sensors. The process revolves around creating a polymeric part through additive manufacturing, leaving voids and trace capillaries. Once the polymer structures are completed, molten metal is injected into these trace capillaries, which create a path to the voids in the printed parts. Capillary forces cause the liquid metal to wick into the capillary channels, filling the voids before solidifying. Unlike competing metal additive manufacturing techniques, the parts can be created with 100% dense metal elements that have low surface roughness and are completely compatible with the surrounding polymer.The proposed objective is to adapt the process specifically for the fabrication of the micro-well detectors required by the AdEPT mission.The overall objective of this proposal is to develop the liquid metal injection process for use with the high-resolution additive manufacturing methods made available through the UCF team, in order to allow for the creation of metal/polymer parts with sub-mm features. A further goal of the program will be to generalize the process in order to expand into other NASA projects, as well as enable a variety of commercial products.