Real-World Challenges It’s taking longer than they might have hoped: There was
a fl urry of interest in buckypaper in 2008 and 2009—it was named as one of SME’s “Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture” in 2009—and media reports from that time made it sound like the material would be ready for use in production imminently. However, right now HPMI is producing buckypaper at only a fraction of its potential strength, in small quantities and at a high price. Buckypaper may be the aerospace material of tomorrow, but tomorrow, to paraphrase Broadway’s “Annie,” is still a day away. As HPMI notes on its Web site (hpmi.net), “Nanotube
reinforced composite materials have yet to demonstrate their much-anticipated success due to non-uniform dispersion, lack of nanotube orientation, and weak interface between nanotubes and the matrix.” The institute is currently researching an innovative processing method to improve nanotube-reinforced polymer composites using buckypaper/
resin infusion techniques. The goals of the project are to pre- pare and test nanotube reinforced composites using a high magnetic fi eld to realize nanotube alignment and establish a comprehensive database for producing and deploying buckypaper/resin infusion composite materials.
Inside HPMI Situated inside a new $20 million, 45,000-ft2 (4185-m2 )
building that houses 13 laboratories, HPMI brings together highly technical researchers and state-of-the-art equipment to continually explore and realize the astounding potential of NOLES, or nanotubes optimized for lightweight exceptional strength. Researchers go from idea to concept to prototype and beyond, working one-on-one with private businesses and the government with complete confi dentiality to meet the specifi c needs of each partner. Both researchers and students have access to the facil- ity’s equipment, which is valued at more than $10 million.
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• Precise metal and plastic marking capabilities • Generous 32” x 20” work area • Advanced job control for increased throughput
• Power configurations up to 50 watts for speed and precision
• Joystick control for easy operation • High-quality, USA-Made Equipment