Radiation shielding is an important aspect of aluminum aerospace structures, such as satellites. Graded Z shielding has been used in satellites for years. It involves laminating several different metals together that each have a different atomic number. The variation in Z number creates an effective filter along a broad spectrum of radiation.
Graded Z shielding can protect sensitive electronic components and reduce background noise for signal analysis. Generally, a graded Z approach will also be lighter and thinner than traditional shielding. Satellites have used combinations of aluminum, titanium and tantalum to create a graded Z structure.
Tantalum has a high resistance to corrosion, and thus can be used to coat components that will operate in a corrosive environment. One company, Fabrisonic, incorporates tantalum into aluminum aerospace structures for radiation shielding using an ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM) process.
UAM can easily weld dissimilar metals. Thus, Fabrisonic can 3D print structural panels with several different Z number materials in a single component. The benefits are reduced part count and no need for complex brazing operations.
In addition to graded Z applications, tantalum is a good absorber of neutrons; there are several terrestrial applications for neutron shielding. Fabrisonic is currently working with embedding tantalum for neutron shielding applications for nuclear medicine.
The UAM solid-state 3D printing process uses sound waves to merge layers of metal foil for true metallurgical bonds with full density. Metals that can be used for this process include tantalum, europium, titanium and aluminum.
Metal 3D printing technologies have the promise of creating parts with complex layered structures not possible with conventional manufacturing approaches. With Fabrisonic’s metal 3D printing technology, you can 3D print parts using multiple different metals layered in the same part, and with CNC precision.
Filed Under: TECHNOLOGIES + PRODUCTS, ALL INDUSTRIES, Machine tool industry + subtractive manufacturing, Electronics • electrical