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Air Force to Provide Funding for Polyimide Prepreg Material Qualification

07 May 2008

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is funding the qualification of a non-methylenedianiline (MDA) polyimide material for use in both airframe and engine applications.

Both the Air Force and NCAMP, who is coordinating this effort, believe that polyimide-based composite materials are a viable substitute for many aerospace parts currently made out of titanium.

The scarcity of raw material and high manufacturing costs associated with titanium make finding a substitute material attractive to the aerospace industry. Polyimide composites can replace titanium in many applications that require less than 500°F operating temperature while offering potential advantages such as lower cost and reduced weight. The advantages of a polyimide over epoxy and bismaleimide include a higher operating temperature, which may reduce or eliminate the need of thermal insulation in some applications.

The material property data acquisition and qualification test plan will generate basic material allowables typically needed for airframe and engine applications and material properties typically needed to establish material control. The available funding will be limited to the qualification of either one resin with two product forms or two resins with one product form.

The requirement for the high temperature and high pressure autoclave curing process will likely limit the number of companies participating in process equivalency. However, the need from the aircraft companies will inspire their suppliers and part fabricators to participate in equivalency due to the access they will gain to the data for use in designing parts. Currently, NCAMP has four companies interested in proposing materials for qualification.

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is also interested in funding a limited amount of testing to screen for compatible film adhesives for cocure and cobond applications with the prepregs currently undergoing NCAMP qualifications. Companies currently participating in NCAMP qualification and equivalency programs have been asked to submit suggestions for film adhesives that are compatible with the prepregs currently being qualified, including ACG MTM45-1, Cytec 5215, Cytec 5250-5, Cytec 977-2, Hexcel 8552, Newport 4708, Nelcote E752, and Tencate TC250. The film adhesives will be chosen by material users to finalize the selection. Two film adhesives per prepreg resin system will be tested. The test panels will be fabricated in the NIAR Composites and Advanced Materials Laboratory.





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