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ATOM: “Additive manufacturing of metal matrix composites for space application”

Implementation progress
17 August 2020

Duration: 36 months


The main goal of this project is to master manufacturing the complex feature demonstrator for space application made of Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) having the specific modulus >30 GPa·cm3/g. This would be possible only by Additive Manufacturing (AM).

The classical methods do not permit to manufacture complicate features and machining of MMC, using MMC sheet or rods, is practically impossible for fine structures. During the project full chain process for AM of MMC will be studied covering from powder, matrix composition, microstructure, interfaces and especially mechanical properties. As comparison, the specific modulus of today’s most common Additive Manufacturing (AM) metals such as aluminium, titanium, and steel is approximately equal (near 25 GPa·cm3/g). The MMC has a great potential for space structures with stiffness driven design. MMCs with their high specific modulus and low coefficient of thermal expansion, while maintaining these properties at relatively elevated temperatures, represent the class of material with vast potential.

The possibility to tailor composite mechanical and physical properties by reinforcement selection and the material processing open additional dimension in the design and AM manufacturing for space applications. Conventional successful developments of highly performant MMCs remains limited due to the challenges associated to their final shape manufacturing (e.g., poor machinability).

The current PhD project aims at developing the full chain of manufacturing processes of near-net-shaped MMCs with high specific modulus (>30 GPa·cm3/g) and low CTE (<20 ppm/°C in the range 50-100°C) for topology optimised space structures.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
Open Channel
Main application area
Generic for multiple space applications
ATOM: “Additive manufacturing of metal matrix composites for space application”