High-performance Epoxy Resins in Aerospace Applications…
We all know the famous opening phrase to Star Trek. For some it evokes fond memories of early sci-fi television. For others, it reminds us of the vast nature of space beyond our world, and the unknown and unexplored galaxies left to discover. For those of us in the epoxy resin polymer industry; helping to create some of the materials and components used to facilitate the exploration of outer space - makes us proud.
Epoxy resin is used in a number of innovative ways in the aerospace industry from the fabrication of spacecraft hardware to aiding in the flame retardancy and reinforcement of space suits. The flexible and adaptive nature of this thermosetting polymer makes it an extremely valuable component in the ever-evolving creation of solutions for space travel…
The harsh environment of space means that the materials used must be of a superior grade – built to withstand the higher heat, cold and radiation conditions existent. “Adhesives and other polymers are used extensively in all types of spacecraft for structural, mechanical, and electronics purposes — including bonding, potting, encapsulating, coating, sealing, and staking.
"Adhesives for space applications must function in high vacuums, extremely low temperatures, and withstand temperature fluctuations. Their bonds should also last the length of the mission. Adhesives directly exposed to space for long periods of time should also strongly resist radiation and microcracking and, if in a low-Earth orbit, also resist atomic oxygen (AO). That’s because radiation can make some adhesives brittle, ultimately resulting in cracks. And lengthy exposure to AO can erode adhesives,” from ‘Epoxies and adhesives fit for space’ by Robert Michaels as posted on MachineDesign.com.
Composite fabrics utilizing epoxy are also implemented in the advanced design and development of spacesuits to ensure strength, lighter weight, as well as durability and flame retardancy. Layers of epoxy resin are sandwiched with layers of fiberglass cloth and composites to construct spacesuits that are multifunctional - protective within spacecraft; as well as flexible during spacewalks – known as EVAs. (The tasks of astronauts outside their mother ship are called extravehicular activities, or EVAs,) 'Suited for Spacewalking' by NASA.
So the next time you’re using epoxy resin for DIY or craft projects around your home, studio or yard; keep in mind that these polymers really are ‘out of this world’!