Thermal protection systems are produced using a variety of fabric products that offer reliable protection from extreme temperatures as well as weight efficiency. Here, we will discuss the common applications of thermal protection systems as well as the various fabrics and products from which they are made. 

What Are Thermal Protective Systems?

Thermal protection systems (TPS) refer to materials that are placed on the outer structural skin of an orbiter to maintain appropriate temperatures, especially during reentry. These systems protect the aircraft structure and its contents from extreme heat by combining high-temperature resistant surface materials with an underlying layer of thermal insulation. This creates a system that is capable of inhibiting the conduction of heat inside the vehicle.

Thermal Protective Systems Industries & Applications

There are numerous applications that rely on thermal protective systems. The high-performance, extremely reliable materials used in these systems are well suited to both the aerospace and aviation industries. In aerospace applications, these materials meet strict requirements for thermal protection, abrasion requirements, reliability, conductivity, absorptivity, emissivity and other regulations. 

The aviation industry utilizes thermal protection system products in commercial, private, and military aircraft. Not only do thermal protection systems protect against extreme heat, but they also shield and protect the airframe from extremely cold conditions found at higher altitudes.

Types of Fabric Products for Thermal Protective Systems

To ensure optimal protection against extreme heat and cold, thermal protective systems are produced using the following materials:

  • 3D Textiles. Woven and braided varieties of 3D textiles are created using various materials. 3D woven textiles are produced in a gentle manner that suits even highly brittle fibers, such as ceramics. 3D braids are typically used in applications such as high-temperature fastener reinforcement and high-temperature gasket seals. 
  • Ablative Assemblies. These products feature excellent through-thickness and layer reinforcement and include multi-layer felt hybrids (MLF) and felted intumescent sandwich hybrids. MLF is used with needle-punched hybrid structures to create composites that feature high thermal stability. Felted intumescent sandwich hybrids provide a reduction in peak temperature during exposure.
  • Current TPS Products. Amorphous silica felt and amorphous silica fabric feature high-end amorphous silica fiber that is non-respirable and available in grades that vary according to continuous use temperature. The woven fabric version provides additional durability at a higher bulk density.
  • Legacy TPS Products. These products are made using materials that are difficult to source and have been re-engineered by Tex Tech to NASA specs. They include felt reusable surface insulation (FRSI) and strain isolation pads (SIP). FRSI offers low-temperature surface insulation while SIP is typically used as an intermediate layer between the fuselage and the tile system to counteract thermal expansion strain. 
  • Reinforced Carbon Carbon (RCC). A strong all-carbon composite, RCC withstands strong aerodynamic forces up to 800 lbs per sq. ft.
  • Felt Reusable Surface Insulation (FRSI). This type of protective material shields surfaces from high temperatures. It is capable of withstanding heat up to 700°F.
  • Tile Bonding. Silicone adhesives are used as tile bonding agents in thermal protection systems due to their excellent bond strength. Tile bonding retains its strength at high temperatures and remains flexible at low temperatures.
  • Infused Stabilized Abrasive Insulation Felt. This high-performance multi-use composite fabric increases erosion resistance using a reinforced fiber structure. It is stabilized with a high char yield silicone that can be customized to meet low out-gas requirements. 
  • Multi-Layer Felt Hybrids (MFH). These hybrid structures sandwich a non-woven felt between two or more woven fabric layers. MFH provides high thermal stability and insulating properties. 

Develop Your Thermal Protection System with Tex Tech Industries

Thermal protection systems are developed to meet rigorous demands and must perform reliably under extreme conditions. The aviation and aerospace industries rely on these systems to provide adequate protection from extreme heat and cold associated with high altitudes and atmospheric reentry conditions. 

Tex Tech has been an industry-leading manufacturer of engineered textiles for over 100 years. We are at the forefront of innovation in high-performance textiles and deliver individualized solutions for the world’s most challenging applications. To learn more, contact us or request a quote today. 

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