Research at Florida State University’s High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI, Tallahassee, Fla.) has focused for some time on development of buckypaper — flat sheet material made of compressed carbon nanotubes (CNTs). HPMI reported in November that the previously experimental material now shows promise for a variety of real-world applications.
Although HPMI now can produce buckypaper only in small quantities at a high price, Frank Allen, HPMI operations director, says researchers are looking to scale up production with a prototype batch process that would produce buckypaper strips at a rate of 5 ft/min (1.52m/min).
HPMI says the electrically conductive material could replace metal lightning-strike mesh on aircraft, and its extraordinary strength-to-weight ratio could make aerostructures stronger and lighter. HPMI reports that it cuts and machines the buckypaper-based composite with an OMAX (Kent, Wash.) 55100 waterjet cutting machine.