The aviation landscape is continuously evolving, increasing the demand for advanced materials to serve new projects. A leading material in the industry is polyurethane-coated fabrics, which offer various properties that make them an exceptional choice for airships. They are high-performance fabrics that can advance the field of lighter-than-air (LTA) vehicles safely and sustainably.

Although airship technology is not new, it is getting renewed attention due to its low carbon emissions and ability to load or unload cargo without requiring costly ground infrastructure like roads or airports. Using hybrid-electric power and helium for lift, modern airships are key to the future of sustainable travel and transport, particularly for delivering cargo to remote areas. Key players in the airship industry, such as Flying Whales and LTA Research, are poised to make airships more accessible within several years.

Learn why polyurethane-coated fabrics are an ideal material to support this burgeoning technology.

A Shift Towards Polyurethane-Coated Fabrics

The airship industry traditionally relied on PFAS-coated fabrics, including perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). However, these coatings have become known as “forever chemicals” that do not break down in the environment or human body, where they can cause health and environmental problems. These findings have prompted a transition to safe and sustainable options like polyurethane-coated fabrics.

Why Polyurethane-Coated Fabrics for Airships?

PFOA- and PFAS-free materials like polyurethane-coated fabrics deliver a combination of unique properties to offer an ideal solution for airship applications:

  • Highly Durable: Polyurethane-coated fabrics can withstand the harsh environments present in air travel, resisting wear, tearing, and abrasion damage.
  • Impenetrable to Helium: The fabrics have a long lifespan and maintain buoyancy in the air by providing a leakproof, helium-tight barrier.
  • Weather-Resistant: Polyurethane-coated fabrics allow the airship envelope to withstand harsh environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures and UV exposure.
  • Flame-Retardant: The polyurethane coating can be made with flame retardancy to enhance the safety of the airship.
  • Flexible and Lightweight: Polyurethane-coated fabrics are flexible and lightweight, permitting airship manufacturers to produce aerodynamic shapes and minimize overall vehicle weight.
  • Non-Breathable: Fabrics coated with polyurethane are impermeable to moisture and air, meaning that they maintain optimal air quality and prevent condensation inside the airship.

Tex Tech: Leading the Way in Polyurethane-Coated Fabrics

At Tex Tech Industries, we are a leader in developing polyurethane-coated fabrics for the manufacture of advanced airship envelope materials. Our polyurethane coatings are flexible, lightweight, and non-breathable to deliver optimal helium retention, which supports prolonged flight times. Our commitment to sustainability and innovation has made us a trusted leader in supplying high-performance materials to airship manufacturers.

The Future of Airship Technology and Polyurethane-Coated Fabrics

As the airship industry evolves, polyurethane-coated fabrics will be a driving force in sustainability and the creation of versatile LTA vehicles. Polyurethane-coated fabrics are crucial in growing the capabilities of airships and unlocking new airship applications, including scientific research, passenger travel, surveillance, and cargo transportation.

Learn More About Polyurethane-Coated Fabrics

As the airship industry expands, manufacturers are seeking PFAS- and PFOA-free fabrics to reduce the environmental and health impact of their operations without compromising the safety and performance of their vehicles. Polyurethane-coated fabrics are a leading sustainable alternative that offers performance similar to traditional PFAS- and PFOA-coated fabrics. The material is durable, weather- and flame-resistant, leak-free, and lightweight. The growing adoption of polyurethane-coated materials will help expand the applications of LTA vehicles in the future.

Tex Tech is a specialty fabric and textile designer and manufacturer. We develop innovative material solutions for critical industries, including aerospace, defense, automotive, filtration, and medical. Contact us or request a quote to speak with a specialist about our polyurethane-coated fabrics for the airship industry.