Somerset, N.J.-based NEI Corp. — a developer, manufacturer and distributor of nanoscale materials
for a wide range of industries — has developed a silicone-based fabric coating featuring nanoscale
additives. The coating was applied using traditional processing techniques to fabrics including
woven fiberglass and Vectran® fiber fabrics, and NEI reports the resulting high-performance fabrics
exhibit enhanced thermal and barrier properties, as well as improved mechanical properties such as
peel and tear strength when compared to fabrics treated with a traditional coating formulations.
Developed through a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Small Business Innovation
Research program, the coatings were then tested through a collaboration between NEI and Frederica,
Del.-based ILC Dover, a developer of engineered softgoods products for defense, aerospace and
commercial applications. The pilot program was scaled up, and prototype airbags were created.
According to leakage tests performed by ILC Dover, the 18-inch spherical airbags exhibited greater
gas retention capabilities when compared to a control group of standard airbags.
According to NEI, applications including safety inflatables such as airbags, hot-air
balloons, cold-air inflatables, boat sails, paragliders and parachutes all can benefit from the
enhanced durability, lower weight and reduced gas permeability properties conferred to the fabric
by the nanotechnology-enabled silicone coating.
“The success of this project can be traced to our core competency in synthesizing and
functionalizing nanoscale materials targeted at specific applications,” said Kenneth Eberts, Senior
Product Development Engineer, NEI Corp.
December 1, 2009