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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
<i>by Chris Seamans</i>
Starship crews, surface teams, military and mercenary units, and those in the civilian sector all have a need to join metals at one time or another. Tanks of fuel and oxygen require a good deal of volume and can be quite heavy.
Microfoil is the solution to this problem. Microfoil is made up of a number of extremely thin layers consisting of boron, carbon, silica or aluminum combined with a transition metal. The different components are selected carefully to ensure a self-propagating, high temperature exothermic reaction when exposed to a small amount of heat (such as the spark from a battery, or a match or lighter, for example). The temperature is high enough to melt a filler to make a weld. The thinner the layer, the less time the reaction takes, and the less time oxygen has to mix with the metals, so the joints are stronger than those welded with more traditional welding equipment. The layers of foil are generally between 20 atoms and 2,000 nanometers across.
The technology is introduced at TL9, but it is prohibitively expensive due to the exacting specifications the foils must be made to. At TL10, the production process is refined, but still rather expensive. By TL12, microfoil can be made cheaply and easily.
Microfoil welding kits will vary in mass and price, due mostly to the availability of the filler metals and the strength of the joints required. Most members of a starship engineering crew, as well as combat engineers and many mechanics will have thick pen-sized "sparkers" to perform on the spot welds when required. The foils themselves mass very little (the average packet weighs about as much as a small notepad, and contains several hundred applications).
TL9 Cr2,000 per application. (About 25-50% more for starship hull grade)