As the aerospace industry evolves with a renewed focus on space travel, there is a growing need for innovation in the area of thermal protective systems (TPS). Even as older systems are refined for viability, new systems must be carefully engineered to meet the demands of new atmospheres and multi-launch vehicles.
Developing such new technologies is far from easy given that aerospace requirements are necessarily stringent. Complying with industry regulations often means identifying new manufacturing techniques that push beyond current capabilities to find solutions that are safer and more practical.
As interest in space travel grows once more, Tex Tech is leading the push for customized hybrid TPS systems to protect vessels from re-entry heating.
How to Prevent the Dangers of Re-Entry Heating
Re-entry has always been one of the most challenging aspects of space flight. As an object falls through the earth’s atmosphere, it experiences intense friction. Compound that friction with a fast re-entry speed and a spacecraft can experience temperatures of >3,000° F as the air around it compresses into plasma. A TPS protects astronauts and internal equipment from these extreme temperatures.
There is no single thermal protective system design that accounts for all flight variables, but all systems will include a lightweight heat shield that dissipates the heat while insulating the occupants. A well-designed TPS reflects most of the heat back into the atmosphere or sheds it away from the vehicle, preventing any damage to the interior of the craft.
Advances in material engineering have led to the development of many different synthetic materials to perform this job, each varying in weight and temperature resistance capabilities. Selecting the best materials for a heat shield or TPS requires a careful evaluation of applicable heat zones, heat fluxes, and mechanical forces that will be present during re-entry.
In most cases, a curated selection of multiple materials will be necessary since the forces experienced during re-entry are not uniform. The nose of the craft, for instance, experiences substantially more heat and pressure, so the material selected for that region must withstand higher temperatures.
Types of TPS Materials
Tex Tech specializes in the manufacture of flexible, graded TPS structures. For each project, we assess the performance requirements carefully to select an appropriate combination of TPS materials from the following:
- Needle-punched felt
- Woven fabrics
- 3D woven/braided fabrics
- 5D assemblies
- Unidirectional tows reinforcement
- Hybrid fabrics
Custom Thermal Protective Systems by Tex Tech
Tex Tech serves high quality coated and laminated products to a wide range of industries, including not only aerospace and defense clients, but also industrial and medical customers. Our expertise lies in performance coatings, applied in solvent, aqueous, or solid form using a variety of techniques:
- Direct application (including knife-over-roll, knife-over-table, and knife-over-air)
- Immersion (dip coating)
- Reverse roll coating
- Heat lamination
- Adhesive lamination
- Transfer coating
Our diverse industry experience and broad manufacturing capabilities allow us to supply all varieties of cutting-edge materials, including those that align with rigorous aerospace requirements.
For more comprehensive information about Tex Tech’s hybrid TPS technologies, download our “Aerospace and Thermal Protective Systems” eBook, or contact us with specific questions.
Download the Aerospace and
Thermal Protective Systems eBook
Aviation safety has always been and will remain a top priority within the industry. Training programs for pilots and crew continue to evolve to ensure they can properly utilize the technology and safety features available to them. Technology has even improved air traffic control practices.
As a result of these advancements in materials, technology, and training, crashes have steadily decreased since the 1950s, even with the increase in air traffic. As innovations continue, we expect to see a continued decline in fatal aircraft accidents, especially with planes getting faster and becoming more fuel efficient.
Flying is generally considered the safest way to travel. The Civil Aviation Authority reports that the fatality rate per billion kilometers traveled is 0.003 for airplanes; meanwhile, it’s 2.57 for automobiles. Even train accidents, at 0.27 deaths per billion kilometers, are more dangerous. In fact, statistics show you’re more likely to die while riding a bicycle than while flying.
Advanced Aerospace Technology at Tex Tech
Rightfully so, aviation safety regulations are rigid and demanding. At Tex Tech, we rise to meet those demands with customized, high-performance engineered fabrics. We offer more than 7,000 products that appear in industrial applications and the aerospace industry: military planes, commercial aircraft, business jets, and even space travel. As a leader in the industry, we’re committed to developing the highest-quality materials to improve aircraft safety and efficiency and continuing to innovate to meet ever-changing trends and demands.
We have a wide variety of products that meet FAR 25.853 or FAR 25.856, including:
- Burnthrough Insulation
- Cabin-Divider Linings
- Carbonized Rayon
- Carpet Underlayments
- Fire-Blocking Layers for Seating
- High-Temperature Ducting Insulation
- Moisture-Absorbing Felts
- Over-the-Frame Blankets
- Thermal Ablatives
- Thermal Acoustic Insulation
You’ll find products like these in the fuselage and the cabin as well as in seats, safety vests, and more. We engineer our products for the highest level of durability, abrasion resistance, thermal resistance, and overall product integrity to meet international standards. We’re proud to lead the way in an industry where there is no room for error.
New Materials to Improve Aviation Safety
The drive to create more fuel-efficient airplanes has encouraged the development of lightweight yet strong and durable materials. These materials need to withstand extreme environments: heat, cold, wind, pressure, and more, without adding unnecessary weight to the aircraft. Thermal acoustic materials, for example, insulate the cabin and the cockpit from temperatures on the skin of the plane that may range from -60°F to 160°F. At the same time, it blocks excess noise to ensure comfort for the passengers and crew. This insulation must also feature fire protection in the event of an accident, and it must not absorb moisture or conduct electricity. Bringing all those features together is a tall order, but it’s what is required for safety.
Eventually, there may be a shift toward hybrid or solar-powered aircraft, new aircraft designs, and advanced techniques for takeoff and landing. Until then, innovative electronics—such as improved cockpit instrumentation display—and composite materials are improving aviation safety one flight at a time.
You can learn more about our advanced aerospace technology by downloading our Aerospace Solutions Data Sheet. If you have any questions about what we offer, feel free to contact us.
Download the Data Sheet