Through a NASA partnership, a space-grade repair patch finds use on the road and in Mother Nature
Picture yourself on the International Space Station (ISS), remote and isolated. An important piece of equipment breaks loose, and now you’ve got to make repairs. Here on Earth, you could simply call in a repairman, or, if you’re handy, buy some parts to fix the problem yourself. These options aren’t exactly available to astronauts working on the ISS. A garage full of tools isn’t a possibility either; with the cost incurred for every pound carried into orbit—not to mention the modest storage space on the station itself—tools that are small, multipurpose, lightweight, reliable, and durable are in high demand.
To that end, NASA funded the design of a simple and reusable patch repair system for servicing structural components in space. CRG Industries LLC of Dayton, Ohio, partnered with NASA to make the material. Soon after, the company commercialized the technology: Rubbn’Repair, for automotive uses, and Rec’Repair, for the outdoors and adventure market.
Fast Repairs for Fast Cars
The qualities that make NASA’s repair patch a great solution on the ISS have made it a popular tool in the auto racing industry. Professional racing is a high-stress, time-sensitive environment, and pit crews need a fix for structural damage they can count on in a pinch.
The Rubbn’Repair patch provides rigid, strong repairs for holes and damage to panels, fenders, and bumpers. It can even replace missing structural or body material. When warmed up—heat provided by a hot air gun or even a short period in the microwave is enough to make the patch flexible—the adhesive patch becomes moldable and can be applied to the damaged area. Then, once the material cools—in just seconds—it becomes a rigid structural patch.
With the patch is applied, the car can be back on the track in a matter of seconds. Unlike typical racing tape, the patch will not degrade and delaminate at high speeds, providing a quick option for restoring aerodynamic shaping and preventing further damage.
An Outdoors, All-Purpose Solution
You don’t have to be an astronaut or race car driver to benefit from this NASA-derived patch. CRG Industries markets its products to ordinary consumers, as well.
In addition to its auto racing applications, the Rubbn’Repair patch is available for use in standard auto repair. After application, the material can be machined and painted, providing a structural alternative to the thin patches usually used in bodywork. Once cured, the waterproof, UV-resistant patch will not degrade, crack or crumble. Rubbn’Repair has been particularly embraced by the trucking industry, where quick repairs made by the driver while on the road allow goods to be delivered on time.
The company’s Rec’Repair patch is designed to meet the needs of campers, boaters, vacationers, and adventurers when they need an emergency, temporary structural patch, whether it is to a cooler, fishing rod, or even the bottom of a canoe. Lightweight and easily packed and carried, the patch comes with a water-activated heating pouch that quickly warms the patch enough to become flexible for application.
The uses for this space-derived, portable, moldable patch are nearly limitless. Whether it’s a space station 200 miles above Earth, a car moving at 200 miles per hour, or a canoe 200 miles from civilization, damaged gear can be fixed on the fly thanks to this NASA partnership.
Rec’Repair® and Rubbn’Repair® are registered trademarks of Cornerstone Research Group Inc.
To learn more about this NASA spinoff, read the original article