Product Outcome

Unitech now commercially manufactures RP-46, the high-temperature polyimide resin matrix system, and RP-50, the high-temperature polyimide coating. In addition to the host of technical specifications that make RP-46 an incredible invention, one of the key features that makes RP-46 so appealing commercially is its versatility; the polyimide can be used as a molding, adhesive, coating, composite matrix resin, foam, or film. It is available as a liquid for prepreg of carbon, glass, or quartz fabric; or as a powder for compression molding. Although specifically designed for the Space Program, industry uses abound.

The traditional use of RP-46 is to impregnate fibers (such as glass, carbon, Kevlar, etc.) with the resin to produce rolls of fabric that can then be cut and shaped. These pieces, which are then heat and pressure cured, can be used in a traditional lay-up to make a structural part. Users employ this method for creating any number of pieces, primarily for use in high-temperature aerospace applications. It can serve as a composite material for thermal skins on aircraft and spacecraft and sees many uses in aerospace engines and exhaust duct systems, where the material is prized for its light weight, durability, and temperature resistance. Similar applications include the high-speed motor sports industry, where the company has already seen interest from NASCAR, Formula One, and motorcycle racing groups.

Unitech LLC received a license from NASA for commercialization of the cost-effective, weight- and space-saving high-temperature material.

Parts built from RP-46 are also finding use in rocket nose cones, where in addition to the light weight and temperature resistance, the dielectric, insulating properties are prized. Rocket nose cones often experience a great deal of heat while also carrying sensitive electronics. The nose cone of a missile, for example, may contain that weapon’s guidance system, so RP-46 would be able to provide the temperature resistance as well as be able to butt against the electronics without risk.

RP-46 can also be used as a molding material. In this application, rather than using the prepregged fabrics, a customer would receive a powder form of the resin and then, depending on the intended use, employ various additives and fillers to create the desired composition. The material comes heated and staged but not completely cured. Once the customer mixes the powder, it is then compression-molded into the specific part. So far, one of the most common uses of this method has been to create bearings for high-temperature industry uses. Another application is in creating grinding wheels. The wheels use RP-46 to bond industrial diamonds in place for grinding extremely hard materials. Grinding wheels made from this material last longer and work longer at higher temperatures.

RP-50 is a coating material that shares many of the same qualities as RP-46, but would not be used for structural applications or making parts. Uses include high-temperature electrical insulation and flexible circuitry, where its electrical and thermal insulating properties are well-suited.

Kevlar® is a registered trademark of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.