SBIR Phase II: Economical Fabrication of Bulk Metallic Glass Sheets through Roll-Stretching

Period of Performance: 04/01/2016 - 03/31/2018

$689K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Supercool Metals LLC
140 Ardmore Street
Hamden, CT 06517
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is in enabling wide range of commercial applications of bulk metallic glasses (BMG). BMGs are novel metallic materials that are fundamentally different from, and advantageous to conventional alloys. They are stronger than most crystalline metals, but at the same time shapeable like plastics. Additional benefits of BMGs include extremely high precision of parts, increased complexity and elimination of expensive machining. Use of BMGs will provide broad opportunities for manufacturers in areas such as watch making and precision mechanics, electronics, biomedical, nano-imprint, defense, aerospace, and automotive. The current barrier to industrializing BMGs is non-availability of practical feedstock material such as BMG sheets. Technologies that we are developing as part of this project include BMG sheet fabrication and thermoplastic forming (TPF) of final components for a variety of applications. Using sheets, manufacturers can leverage BMGs unique processability to fabricate complex shapes at highest precision and ease through thermoplastic forming methods. Our technology also has significant societal implications. It will empower innovative small and medium size U.S. companies by bringing them a novel manufacturing technology that is highly versatile, energy efficient and low in capital investment. This project is based on the recent scientific discovery of BMG sheet fabrication using the thermoplastic forming technology. This is a low-force, high-rate deformation method with great potential for large-scale commercial manufacturing. We expect that our findings will lead to a better understanding of TPF-based processes. Specifically, for multi-step TPF-based sheet fabrication, the proposed work will reveal process stability and how it is affected by processing parameters. Proposed research will also determine the effects of TPF-based processing on mechanical properties of BMGs, will help identify suitable BMG alloys for sheet fabrication and provide insights into their commercial feasibility. In addition, the proposed work will also enhance theoretical understanding of BMG sheet fabrication and help develop a predictable and quantitative model description. Such models can allow prediction of alloy-specific processing conditions in industrial settings in the future. Finally, this project will result in a commercially viable sheet fabrication process and apparatus for BMG sheets of unprecedented sizes. It will significantly advance opportunities for bulk metallic glasses in a wide range of applications, bringing two decades of academic discoveries to the commercial arena.