Inventors at NASA Langley Research Center have done it again! The Agency’s 2008 “Commercial Invention of the Year” has been awarded to John W. Connell, Joseph G. Smith, Jr., and Paul M. Hergenrother (retired), all from Langley. Their invention, “Composition of and Method for Making High Performance Resins for Infusion and Transfer Molding Processes,” has resulted in a high temperature resin, known as “PETI-330.” PETI-330 is specifically designed to use in fabricating composite materials through low cost processes.
According to John Connell, “These composite fabrication techniques allow for the manufacture of complex shapes with a high degree of dimensional precision.” PETI-330 is the only commercially available off-the-shelf resin that has high temperature structural mechanical properties, as well as the right low and stable melt viscosity properties suitable for resin transfer molding. It is this unique combination of high temperature performance and processing characteristics that enables its applications.
The chemistry used in the design of PETI-330 is responsible for the resin system’s rare ability to have both these properties. Its excellent melt stability allows PETI-330 to penetrate large area carbon fiber preforms without changing flow characteristics. The resulting finished resin products have high heat resistance, making them ideal candidates for large structures that are exposed to hot environments.
Currently, NASA Langley researchers are using PETI-330 in the development of advanced composite fabrication technology for the Agency’s Aeronautics Supersonics Program. Connell believes the NASA award will help with transferring the technology to the commercial marketplace. “Ideally it will provide more visibility for the material and help further its progression into aerospace related products.” Ube America, a division of Ube Industries, Inc., licensed the invention from Langley. Recently, the company began collaborating with Boeing Aerospace to mature PETI-330 for Boeing’s commercial airplanes, where it will be used in airframe structures close to the engines to reduce weight and cost.