HPC’s recent coverage of lightning strike protection technologies for composite aircraft (“Lightning strike protection strategies for composite aircraft,” HPC May 2013 or visit short.compositesworld.com/94qeyhzA) went to press without one of the important suppliers/contributors, an omission corrected here. Lightning strike protection and static dissipation materials are also available from Technical Fibre Products Inc. (TFP, a James Cropper Co., Schenectady, N.Y.). The company can produce metal-coated carbon fibers in-house, through its subsidiaries Electro Fiber Technologies LLC and Metal Coated Fibers Inc. (MCF), colocated with TFP in Schenectady. Metal plating is done using either an electrodeless plating or electroplating process, depending on the requirements; the metal options include copper, nickel, silver, gold, alloys and more, in variable thicknesses up to 65 percent of the finished product weight. Nickel-free, environmentally friendly alternatives also are available, says David Jhaveri, TFP’s business development manager.
The metallized fibers are then converted into veil or mat, trade named Optiveil or Optimat, using polyester, polyurethane or acrylic binders, in continuous or chopped form, from 5 mm/0.2 inch up to 1,650 mm/65 inches in width. Alternatively, the metallic tows can be prepregged, woven or made into customized forms to meet specific application needs. Veil weights from 4 g/m2 up to 200 g/m2 are available and are designed for EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding, thermal conductivity, static protection and as part of an overall lightning strike protection strategy. “Optiveil also offers multifunctionality such as providing a high-quality surface finish for the composite part in combination with conductivity and EMI shielding,” adds Jhaveri. The veils and mats also are suitable for use in resistive heating applications, such as aircraft deicing.