Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites, or ISAAC to its friends, is the impressive robot NASA uses to create new composites for aerospace. ISAAC uses a 16-head additive manufacturing head to create new composites that may be lighter in weight and more efficient. Right now ISAAC is all about the research, but in the future it is expected that ISAAC will actually create parts for aerospace and aeronautics.
The machine is built in such a way that it can work with numerous different materials, creating new composites as it goes along. This allows a much more efficient approach to creating and testing new materials.
Last fall NASA built an enormous hermetically sealed clean room so ISAAC can work in a temperature and humidity controlled environment with no concerns about contamination of the new materials being created. A 20-ton climate control machine keeps things just right in the clean room. Human cleaners in combination with automatic filtering keep the clean room clean. It’s nice to have a perfect working environment.
But ISAAC’s job depends on the degree of control over the room that NASA has developed. The humidity, for example, can be held steady while different temperatures are tested, and vice versa. It’s hard to control these variables independently in the world at large. While ISAAC is producing test prototypes and the machines that test them, it is also designed specifically to test the degree to which factors like heat and humidity affect manufacturing.
So how’s ISAAC doing in its new workshop?
Things are going well. ISAAC is producing plenty of useful data, and has already helped make some new ideas into reality.
In fact, ISAAC was one of the big stars introduced to the new administrator at the Langley facility, where ISAAC and the workshop live. It’s an ongoing, long-term project but has already been involved in some important tests.
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