NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- S4.04-7980 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 024019 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Materials and Systems for Future Planetary Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE: Pultrusion Technology for Production of Carbon/Ticona-41 Liquid Crystal Prepreg

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
32 Cummings Park
Woburn , MA   01801 - 2122
(781 ) 932 - 5670

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Thomas Carroll
32 Cummings Park
Woburn , MA   01801 - 2122
(781 ) 932 - 5667

Ticona-41 is a liquid crystal polymer exhibiting resin properties that make it an attractive candidate for composite spacecraft structures. Unfortunately, its high melting temperature and viscosity make it very difficult for conventional processing technology to produce carbon fiber prepreg with a Ticona-41 matrix. KaZaK Composites proposes to investigate modifications of two unconventional, proprietary pultrusion-based techniques developed under SBIR specifically to address some of the resin characteristics of Tacona-41 that make prepregging with this material difficult. These techniques have been successfully used to make carbon / mesophase pitch prepreg, used as carbon/carbon precursor. Mesophase pitch is a high melting point material with many similarities to Tacona-41 processing conditions. KCI will consider application of a unique consolidation and B-stage tooling concept that eliminates many issues associated with the tendency of Tacona-41 to stick to tooling surfaces. In Phase I, alternative material and process candidates will be used to create sample prepreg material. Samples will be characterized to determine prepreg and composite quality. Phase I results will indicate the advisability of scaling up the process in Phase II to produce long lengths of consistently high quality prepreg. Successful Phase II conclusion will result in commercial availability of Ticona-41/carbon prepreg.

Low outgassing characteristics, combined with light weight and impact resistance of carbon fiber / Tacona-41 composites make this material an excellent alternative for fabrication of clean room walls and doors, robotic arms operating in computer chip-making facilities and medical equipment. Availability of the prepreg form will lead to applications in high end sporting goods. It will also be a potential material for KCI's lattice fin technology, a novel approach to missile control surfaces that involves use of very thin composite prepreg and a need for very good impact resistance.

Low outgassing, impact resistance and excellent mechanical properties of Ticona-41 liquid crystal polymer make this material an excellent candidate for spacecraft structures applications. The material exhibits good thermal stability and damping. Potential spacecraft structures that could benefit from Tacona-41 matrix composites include solar panels, deployable and coilable booms, antenna dishes and spacecraft bus structure. Large, fragile gossamer structures such as solar sails would benefit from its impact resistance. Other NASA structural applications include aircraft interior structures, including intrusion proof barriers and doors, and the thin skins of secondary aircraft sandwich panels used for access covers and control surfaces.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10