Testing of materials and processes under ESTEC contract
AAC has established a rare combination of expertises: on one hand expertise in materials characterisation, and on the other hand several very specific test devices that are necessary to validate (new) materials and processes for use in space.
Based on this combined expertise AAC has been successfully renewing a contract to ESTEC in open competition on space materials characterisation for more than 30 years. More than 180 investigations were performed, that covered a variety of very space specific characterizations. Examples are establishing mechanical data for new alloys (e.g. Al-Li-), partly down to cryogenic temperatures. Growth of tin whiskers was investigated by use of SEM/FIB. New light metals alloys containing Mg were investigated for their thermal stability towards higher temperatures (sublimation). With upcoming REACH regulations a strong effort was dedicated to introduction of new solders for electronic equipment. Many (advanced) materials were classified for their SCC-resistance. Besides detailed investigation on hard chrome steels (bearings), this applies also to the new family of materials produced by advanced manufacturing (3D-printing).
Finally, the expertise in cold welding and related data that provides AAC on behalf of ESA to space engineers via the Cold Weld Database were derived within this contract.
New topics are regularly initiated. They are partly proposed by AAC following demands from space industry.