Creare is active in development and application of advanced materials processing and component fabrication techniques for manufacturing, both as end products for our clients and as means to build components and devices for our project needs. Our work blends our strength in fluid flow and heat transfer, control systems, experience in hardware design, and innovative ideas in fabrication operations. Our services range from analytical support to the complete design, construction, and testing of prototype equipment. We work across technologies ranging from thin film processing for electronics to precision stamping and forming.
Examples of our results include:
- Thermal and fluid design of chemical vapor deposition reactors.
- Envelop® protection systems for the prevention and mitigation of marine corrosion.
- A laser micromachining facility for production of capillary evaporators.
- Processes and equipment for superplastic forming.
- Methods to compact and tailor the pore size in porous and foamed metals.
Our work in non-contact metrology complements our innovations in other advanced manufacturing technologies. Our laser scanning system is constructed of low cost components, provides “real-time” measurements, and decreases measurement cycle times. Not only is our system highly accurate, we combine the measurement with the necessary diagnostics so that a quick pass/fail determination about the part can be made. The system can be deployed as a held-held unit or mounted on a robot.
We have successfully demonstrated our scanning technology on the following applications:
- Measuring the diameter and angle of large numbers of laser-drilled holes.
- Scanning of parts, surface contours and fasteners on an aircraft skin.
- Scanning of integrally-bladed rotor disks for gas turbine engines.
At Creare, we conduct applied research at both conventional and ultraprecision scales for machining operations, drawing on our capabilities in heat transfer, structural mechanics, machine design, materials, and computer modeling to develop innovative processes and equipment.
For high-performance machining, we developed unique cutting tool cooling technologies that eliminate the need for conventional flood coolants, while significantly enhancing machining performance. Creare’s cryogenic machining approach uses a very small flow of liquid nitrogen (approximately 1/100 of conventional coolants) delivered through-tool to enable high-speed, environmentally friendly manufacturing while enabling a severalfold increase in tool life and a doubling (or more) of processing speed. Our work in ultraprecision machining focuses on the development of hybrid processing of ceramic mirrors. Lasers can be used to reduce cutting forces, increase material removal rates, and enable the machining of difficult materials like ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). To address the challenges, Creare has developed a novel laser-assisted machining (LAM) system. We have not only developed and demonstrated systems in our laboratories, but we have integrated our systems on commercial machine tools for eventual technology transition to the U.S. industrial base.
For equivalent strength, significant weight reductions can be achieved for high performance military and commercial systems using polymer matrix, thermosetting composites, and thermoplastic composite materials. Creare develops novel laser-assisted consolidation (LAC) systems that will replace current gas jet or infrared heating on large-scale fiber placement systems to increase tape feed rates and reduce production costs. Using this approach will enable a 60% increase in tape feed rates beyond the capability of existing hot gas or infrared heating systems. In addition, we have implemented on-line measurement and temperature control systems, giving composite part manufacturers precise control of the manufacturing process.
Creare has developed innovative precision stamping and forming processes, simultaneously applying both creativity and fundamental engineering principles to develop rapid and cost-effective production techniques.
To fabricate high-performance, microchannel heat exchangers, we developed precision forming and blanking processes and equipment, including a compact 1700-ton stamping press. We have fabricated intricate heat exchanger plates from stainless steel, Hastelloy, titanium, and aluminum for a range of geometries and applications. These plates are produced at low cost and include features that enable our heat exchangers to achieve very high thermal effectiveness, minimum weight, high power density, and fault tolerance. Our die designs also incorporate features to promote effective bonding of the plates during fabrication of the complete heat exchanger.
Creare has also developed superplastic compression forming processes for the low-cost production of precision microwave and munitions components. The processes involve the use of hydraulic pressure to force a blank of material on to a die at superplastic temperatures and strain rates.