Enabling & Support

Method of Producing Reinforced Metallic Materials

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology
600 - Abstract:
Space systems imply special needs for used materials and structural parts. For instance, lightweight structural parts, which also have high strength and stiffness at the same time, are necessary. Hence, the ability to produce nano-composites of magnesium and aluminum is desirable. The following invention describes a method approaching this challenge. Licence agreements are sought.


The European Space Agency developed a system for producing reinforced metallic components (see picture). The system for manufacturing a metal matrix composite component consists of a container with two interconnected compartments. A porous reinforcement preform (e.g. ceramic) is placed in one compartment, and matrix metal is placed in the second one. The container is evacuated, sealed and then heated to above the melting point of the matrix metal. When the matrix metal is molten, a high pressure is applied to the outside of the container, forcing the matrix metal to impregnate the porous preform. After completing the infiltration, the container is cooled and the external pressure released. The method results in a reinforced metal matrix composite component.

The invention allows for the production of nano-composites (e.g. magnesium, aluminium).

Reinforced metallic components
Reinforced metallic components

Innovations and advantages:

  • Ensuring a fully dense composite.
  • Producing the container at low-cost from low carbon steel for magnesium and magnesium alloys.
  • Minimizing the oxidation and removing oxides on the surface of the melt.
  • Increasing the preservation of the preform and minimizing the residual porosity.

Domain of application:

This system can be used in different sectors involved in material manufacturing, such as:

  • Aeronautics (turbine components)
  • Automotive (brake pads or disks, exhaust pipes, pistons, cylinders or any heat shielding components)
  • Mining (refining rolls)

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