Figure 1: A selection of Armatex silicone-coated specialty fabrics. Source: Mid-Mountain MaterialsFigure 1: A selection of Armatex silicone-coated specialty fabrics. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials

Specialty coated fabrics are comprised of a fabric made from technical fibers and specialty polymer coatings. They are ideal for applications where strength, protection and impermeability are essential. Specialty coated fabrics solve tough challenges in a wide range of industries including aerospace, aluminum, automotive, oil and gas, power generation, transportation, and mechanical insulation.

Categories and applications

Applications for specialty coated fabrics include:

  • Automotive heat shields
  • High-temperature robotic protection covers
  • Protective cargo covers
  • Spark curtains
  • Welding curtains
  • Vapor barriers
  • Smoke barriers
  • Weather and UV resistant textiles
  • Geotextiles
  • Conveyor belt membranes
  • Noise control barriers
  • Removable insulation jackets
  • High temperature gasketing and seals
  • Food grade materials for kitchen and restaurants
  • Chemicals and radiation resistant fabrics
  • Antifouling fabrics

Mid-Mountain specialty coated fabrics overview

Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc. is a leading supplier of both standard and specialty coated fabrics. It has been inventing and perfecting scientific formulations for coated fabrics for more than 44 years. Mid-Mountain’s specialty fabrics use fiberglass and silica substrates as well as Nomex®, Kevlar®, nylon, carbon, aramid blends and other materials, coated with a variety of high-temperature, chemical and abrasion-resistant coatings. In many cases, fabrics must satisfy applicable federal regulations issued by agencies such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In partnership with customers, Mid-Mountain has also developed innovative fabrics for use in technical applications such as air cargo covers, airbags, robot protective covers and temporary wilderness shelters.

The ARMATEX® product family includes numerous combinations of base fabrics and coatings optimized for different applications as shown below.

Sample products

Many THERMOPAK® custom fabricated seals and components are made with ARMATEX® specialty coated fabrics, providing superior heat protection, and making them perfect for use as high-temperature seals, curtains, and blankets. THERMOPAK® Crucible Lid Seals, shown in Figure 2, form an airtight seal, allowing positive or negative pressure to be contained within a vessel. Rated for continuous temperatures up to 1000° F (538° C), they are widely used in the aluminum industry in cast houses and ladles, and in numerous industries as door seals in boilers and ovens.

Figure 2: A selection of THERMOPAK® high-temperature fabricated thermal seals. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.Figure 2: A selection of THERMOPAK® high-temperature fabricated thermal seals. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

THERMOPAK® Die-Cut Gaskets are custom made to client specifications. They are made from materials that provide the highest level of chemical, abrasion and heat resistance to fill any imperfections on surfaces that require a high-temperature seal. Die-cut gaskets can be manufactured with a range of insulation materials, including silicone coated fabrics, refractory coated fabric, silica coated fabrics, ceramic fiber paper and fiberglass paper.

Figure 3: A selection of THERMOPAK® die-cut parts made from specialty coated fabrics. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.Figure 3: A selection of THERMOPAK® die-cut parts made from specialty coated fabrics. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

ARMATEX® Q Refractory coated fabrics and textiles are specifically designed for high thermal sealing applications and incorporate Mid-Mountain’s proprietary refractory coating, Q-Mix. Q-Mix can be applied to a range of substrates to increase temperature, chemical and abrasion resistance. This range also includes fabrics and textiles coated with various polymer coatings that provide outstanding thermal insulation properties, allowing them to be used in fabricated components for specialty seals.

ARMATEX® SilverStar coated fabrics combine high-temperature resistance and abrasion resistance with an aesthetically pleasing weave pattern and improved thermal properties due to its reflective coating.

Case studies

In response to specific industry requirements and highly technical applications, Mid-Mountain has developed numerous specialty coated fabrics. Here are several examples.

Protecting robotic equipment in extreme environments

Robotics are widely used in industrial environments with harsh operating conditions, such as steel mills, aluminum smelters, foundries, refineries, and petrochemical plants. Without proper protection from the hazards of these conditions, tens of thousands of dollars that have been invested in robotic equipment can be lost in an instant. To remain effective, robotics must weather extreme conditions without corroding or degrading, and be resistant to dust, chemicals, moisture, and temperature extremes. Robot protective covers prevent component failure, allow robots to operate in a larger range of conditions, and extend the operational life of the robots. However, many of the fabrics traditionally used have a high level of flexural failure, and low resistance to heat and abrasion.

Figure 4: THERMOPAK® robot covers fabricated from ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 Robotex. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.Figure 4: THERMOPAK® robot covers fabricated from ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 Robotex. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

In response, Mid-Mountain has developed ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 Robotex, a high-performance fabric developed to protect robots from chemicals, sparks, molten splash, and pollutants, thus reducing the downtime required for maintenance and failure, and increasing the life of the robot. ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 Robotex is a very high strength, aromatic polyamide woven fabric that is coated with a highly specialized and high-performance silicone elastomer.

In addition to manufacturing the coated fabric, Mid-Mountain has the capability to fabricate the robot covers as well. Extensive testing has demonstrated that Robotex lasts longer than conventional robot cover and maintains its integrity in severe operating conditions. Figure 4 shows a THERMOPAK® robot arm cover fabricated for an aluminum smelter from ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 Robotex; the full cover is part of a complete set manufactured for use in a manufacturing environment where water spray is present.

Aerospace and aviation

Mid-Mountain specialty coated fabrics find multiple aerospace applications both in the air and on the ground.

Following the investigation into three fire-related freighter accidents that occurred between 2006 and 2012, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended in October 2012 that the FAA require active fire-suppression systems in all cargo compartments of aircraft and the development of fire-resistant cargo covers or fire containment covers (FCC). The FCC isolates individual pallets and operates as a passive system that isolates a fire from other aircraft cargo and prevents it from spreading.

Mid-Mountain’s FCC material has been developed after extensive research and development. ARMATEX® SF2 12-NF can be used as flexible cargo containers, pallet covers, smoke curtains and cargo liners for aircraft. The product is the most advanced protection available for containing deadly smoke and fire in commercial aircraft cargo bays.

The product is made of a special polymer coated fabric treated with a proprietary formulation of fire retardants that can withstand temperatures up to 1,400° F (760° C) for up to four hours and offers exceptional resistance to fire, smoke and weather conditions. This fabric also has very high tensile and puncture resistant strength with very high weather and mildew resistant properties.

This fabric cover provides a two-way fire barrier that effectively isolates each cargo position on the aircraft and prevents any fire from spreading and escalating. The fire containment cover suppresses the localized threat of the fire on the aircraft through oxygen starvation.

ARMATEX® SIF intumescent coated fabrics are also excellent for use for cargo protection. They are flexible coated fabrics that are non-toxic, have no odor, low heat release and low smoke, and are refractory fire resistant. Coated on one side with an intumescent coating and

the other side with silicone rubber, ARMATEX® silicone/intumescent coated fabrics have outstanding durability and flexibility, provide superior protection from UV, moisture and mildew, and have high dirt resistance and excellent washability. On the ground, ARMATEX® SF 37 Jetstar is specifically designed to use in flexible enclosure assemblies of aircraft loading walkways. The fabric is composed of a medium-weight fiberglass fabric coated on both sides with a proprietary silicone rubber compound for superior strength and resistance to abrasion, fire and weathering. ARMATEX® SF 37 Jetstar meets or exceeds the flame resistance requirements of the NFPA specifications 417, 255 and 701, and similar specifications in UBC 42-1 and UL 723.

NASA Mars Lander

Figure 5: The SIAD for the Mars Lander incorporating Mid-Mountain fabric technology. Source: Mid-Mountain MaterialsFigure 5: The SIAD for the Mars Lander incorporating Mid-Mountain fabric technology. Source: Mid-Mountain Materials

NASA called on Mid-Mountain to develop a fabric for the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) suitable for landing larger aircraft on the surface as part of a Mars Lander mission. The SIAD-E is inflated by a combination of gas generators and ram air inlets, allowing it to fully deploy in less than two seconds in conditions up to Mach 4. Mid-Mountain was asked to overcome the challenge of coating a silicone compound onto a heat-sensitive, dimensionally unstable braided fabric. The materials science team at Mid-Mountain developed a unique coating technique that achieved this goal, without applying high heat or web tension.

Engineering resources for ARMATEX® specialty coated fabrics

Mid-Mountain maintains an in-house applied research engineering team of engineers and material scientists who work closely with customers to develop unique solutions that will address their application challenges. Through an innovative process that combines chemistry and technology, Mid-Mountain leads the development and production of custom designed coatings for various fabrics. With custom compounding capabilities, they create specialized technical solutions specific to end users and take pride in their spirit of innovation, perfection, and commitment to the environment. The team is led by Amulya Das, a material scientist with over 30 years of hands-on working experience in manufacturing, engineering, design, and R&D in the areas of textiles, chemicals, coatings, refractories, and polymers as well as high-performance materials.

About Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Mid-Mountain manufactures a range of standard and specialty coated fabrics and textiles, custom fabricated products, and refractory materials suitable for a wide range of applications.

Mid-Mountain is a vertically integrated company and manufactures many thermal insulation barriers and seals from internally produced materials. This approach results in higher quality finished products and lower costs to customers.

For more information, contact the company by phone or email via their website.