Imagine a fabric strong enough to protect against flame … shield satellites from micrometeorite impact … and even withstand the blazing heat of a space shuttle launch. Proven in both flight and in space, 3M™ Nextel™ Ceramic Fibers and Textiles have long been used as flame and heat shielding materials in civilian and military aircraft and spacecraft.
Nextel ceramic fibers and textiles are designed to meet the toughest thermal, mechanical and electrical performance requirements, including FAA criteria for aircraft firewalls and NASA standards for shuttle launch and re-entry. Nextel ceramic textiles can withstand extremely high temperatures and are extraordinarily durable, yet are also flexible and lightweight. They provide consistent and reliable performance in mission-critical applications from aircraft wiring insulation to engine firewalls and spacecraft micrometeorite shields. Nextel ceramic fibers are also used as structural reinforcements in advanced metal and polymer composite materials, imparting high temperature resistance for load-bearing applications.
Fan cowls, engine struts and other jet engine components need to withstand a great deal of stress from high temperatures, punishing vibration and – above all – the threat of flame. If a fire should occur, firewalls made of Nextel ceramic fabrics have proved to meet the FAA’s 2000ºF (1093ºC) 15-minute flame penetration requirement – at a lighter weight and with easier maintenance than metal shields. Nextel products are also used for high temperature sealing, electrical insulation for aircraft wiring, and as structural reinforcement for exhaust components and other composite parts.
Once used to protect NASA Space Shuttles against the heat of reentry, today Nextel textiles and fibers are used for both high temperature and load-bearing applications in outer space. For example, blankets sewn from Nextel textiles protect the Delta II rocket engine from the plume of the solid boosters, and whipple shields made with Nextel fabrics defend the International Space Station and satellites against impact by micrometeorites and space debris.