Traditional manufacturing of refractory metal products by machining mill products results in considerable material waste and long lead times while placing limitations on their microstructures and properties. The high cost of these materials and the difficulty in processing them from start to finish further restricts their use. Forging of near-net shape parts can potentially reduce material waste, shorten cycle times, and improve properties, which would open up many additional applications in current markets. Refractory metals can be hot forged but traditional forging of W requires temperatures up to 3000°F. These temperatures, however, limit tool life, require protective atmospheres to prevent severe oxidation, and result in relatively poor properties. This SBIR Phase I work will demonstrate a novel manufacturing process to form refractory metals and alloys at much lower temperatures that presently possible. A lower temperature process will ultimately be safer and less expensive, since less energy is needed and cheaper tool materials can be used and will last longer. Significant reduction in part costs will also be possible given that less starting material is needed and the amount of machining necessary will be greatly decreased given that the near-net shaping capability. The proposed technology will also allow for better microstructural control and therefore more robust properties, thus may enable this class of materials to begin to reach its full promise for extreme temperature use.
This program should result in higher performance, more affordable refractory metal/alloy parts for use in very high temperature hot zone structures and components such as advanced ground propulsion testing, reactor fuel elements, hot gas path nozzles, and thrusters for spacecraft. Other NASA applications include hot structures and heat shields (i.e., thermal protection system) for reusable launch vehicles and/or aircraft engines
Better, more affordable manufacture of refractory metals/alloys for use as: 1) very high temperature (hot zone) structures/parts for spacecraft/rocket propulsion, gas turbines, power generation (nuclear, fossil), and chemical process/industrial furnace equipment; 2) armaments and munitions; and 3) tooling for semiconductors, sputtering targets (e.g., flat panel displays), and medical imaging.