We brainstorm and evaluate numerous new material concepts by using our comprehensive system-based analysis and design approach. Then we assess and refine our design models, and focus on demonstrating the most promising material design concept(s).
Concepts Feasibility Analysis
After our design goals have been set, we generate and brainstorm new microstructural material design concepts that could solve the material design need or opportunity as a complete system. We typically begin by outlining the processing – microstructure – properties – performance relationships for a new material in the form of System Design Charts. We often also analyze the System Design Charts that we’ve created for incumbent materials in more depth, in order to identify multiple levels of material microstructural hierarchy and link them to corresponding properties and processing steps. We begin conceiving and designing potentially advantageous material microstructure interactions, and effects at numerous length dimensions (including nanostructures) during production, processing and use.
Assess Design Resources
We then assess the critical design factors and specific resources that we need to execute a detailed alloy design. We evaluate the mechanistic models needed to pursue each concept and compare them to our existing design models, tools and capabilities. We typically identify the inputs and required accuracy of each model, and the resources needed to achieve the design. We often refine or develop new models as needed, and assess the risk and consequences associated with each critical design factor and model. This model development can include the refinement or creation of fundamental material parameters and databases, built from public and private data. We also review critical material design properties and our means to predict and measure them.
Select and Demonstrate Concept(s)
We then down-select the most promising microstructural concept(s), in collaboration with our client and other program stakeholders. At this point we often demonstrate the ability of our leading concept(s) to meet key performance goals by producing, characterizing and testing very small sub-scale prototype quantities of the new material, or by other demonstration techniques. In some cases we produce these very sub-scale prototypes using our in-house facilities.
Completing the Concepts Feasibility Analysis effort typically marks the conclusion of a formal Phase I program effort.