Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize everyday life much the way plastics did at the turn of the 20th century. A nanometer is a mere one-billionth of a meter. Nanomaterials that utilize carbon nanotubes integrate a component that is 50 times stronger than steel. This allows us to design lightweight materials with improved strength properties at a price that is affordable compared to standard manufacturing methods.
Nanotechnology is a rapidly expanding research and development field that offers great potential for cost savings. It offers access to quantum and semi-classical effects, which enables us to harness new capabilities tailored to emerging global security demands far better than many state-of-the-art technologies used today.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ Advance Development Programs (ADP) has engineered a low cost, high performance thermoplastic alternative for metals and composites called APEXn-1 (Advanced Polymers Engineered for the Extreme).
APEXn-1 is a high strength and stiffness, lightweight, corrosion and chemical resistant, flame retardant, and recyclable polymer nanocomposite. It has applications on a wide range of platforms, such as defense aircraft, combat ships, and tactical vehicles.
APEXn-1 utilizes an established supply chain and leverages efficient and rapid production methods such as injection molding, profile extrusion, and thermoforming to manufacture small and large structures with tight tolerances and accuracy. These low cost manufacturing processes are widely used in automotive, commercial aerospace, and consumer goods markets. Currently, APEXn-1 is available in quantities ranging from 660 lbs to 50,000 lbs from a commercial supplier.
By using commercially available materials, Lockheed Martin is able to offer a low-risk, low-cost solution poised to provide major cost savings to large programs for Lockheed Martin and its customers.
To date, APEXn-1 has been demonstrated using conventional and advanced manufacturing technologies including:
- Fused Deposition Modeling®
- Injection Molding
- Profile Extrusion