Imagine a material that lightens fuel loads and cuts costs every time a rocket blasts off from the launch pad. Space Florida recently awarded Orlando-based Semplastics a Phase 2 grant to continue working on a unique material that has the potential to transform the aerospace and space industries.
Semplastics, through its X-MAT® division, is working with Israeli partner Polymertal to create a lightweight plastic that can be coated with metal. The final hybrid product would be lightweight and would be able to withstand high temperatures at the same time. The resulting material would be stronger than plastic, but lighter than traditional metal parts. It would have greater resistance to friction and wear and could withstand high pressures. In other words, the hybrid would be unlike any material currently on the market.
As part of the ongoing research, Semplastics is experimenting with ways to cut production costs. The $500,000 Space Florida grant allows the X-MAT® division to explore modifying the high temperature plastics to enable 3D printing.
X-MAT®, the Advanced Materials Division of Semplastics, officially launched in 2013. The company developed a revolutionary high-performance material that combines some of the best properties of metals (electrical conductivity), engineering plastics (lightweight) and ceramics (high operating temperature), leading to a number of partnerships with organizations such as NASA, Space Florida and the NETL.
In addition to its potential space and aerospace applications, the hybrid material also has a future on earth from high-temperature seals to engine manifolds for high-performance cars to fireproof roof tiles, lightweight space mirrors, battery electrodes and 3D printing ceramics. The material could also be used as EMI shielding for helmets and other equipment.
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