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General Plastics’ Polyurethane Foams Chosen for Deep Space and Defense Applications

In 2016, Promontory, Utah, nozzle plugs made from General Plastics’ LAST-A-FOAM® FR-4300 played an important role in protecting rockets for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). General Plastics’ customer, Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, is producing the five-segment solid rocket boosters for the 322-foot SLS – the most powerful motors ever flown.

Our nozzle plugs fit in the aft end of each motor, securely closing the rocket nozzle openings. The LAST-A-FOAM® FR-4300 physical properties allowed for compound-curved surfaces and the required tensile properties to deliver the right amount of strength for the application.

Senior Account Manager Rick Brown, Ph.D. relates that in addition to manufacturing Orbital ATK’s nozzle closures for the SLS program, we also produce other types of nozzle closures and supply numerous built-to-print parts for aerospace and commercial programs

General Plastics engineered foam support commercial companies engaged in space transportation with products that can withstand the extreme environments of space travel. Our foams are currently used in launch vehicles sending satellites into space and servicing the International Space Station, and venturing to the moon.

 

Aerospace and defense

Defense customers seek out General Plastics for our manufacturing capabilities and material certifications – ISO, aerospace, military and nuclear. We manufacture a capsule support wedge used in the Trident II missile, which is part of the Fleet Ballistic Missile program operated by the U.S. Navy, and is part of our nation’s land, air and sea nuclear defense triad.

General Plastics’ foam also fulfills specific needs supporting underwater missile applications for leading defense contractors. “As part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, the United States agreed to deactivate four launch tubes on our nuclear submarines that house Trident II missiles,” said Brown. Our EF-4000 flexible foam is used as insulation for the steel ballast closures on four of the launch tubes.

A key defense-related application for General Plastics’ flexible foam is in the transportation of nuclear armament containers. A company who specializes in weapons research and national security programs tasked us with providing highly engineered flexible foams to cradle U.S. nuclear weapons as they are transported to different locations.

Our flexible foam serves as a space filler to prevent the payload from moving during transport. General Plastics manufactures the part to their specific dimensional and mechanical requirements, so that these fillers absorb a certain amount of energy but rebound and maintain their original support characteristics after flexing, helping to preventing the missile from being damaged during transport.

Another defense application involves the company’s proprietary explosion protection system, the Blast Tamer®.  The U.S. Navy is making use of the Blast Tamer® in Bangor, Washington. In the event of an accident or fire, these advanced polyurethane foam wall systems are specifically designed to mitigate an inadvertent explosion by absorbing the blast energy and dispersing it upward, rather than to adjacent compartments. It is extremely space-efficient and cost-effective while accommodating storage of varied compatible munitions in the same area.

Low-density polyurethane subsea foams also help the U.S. Navy keep a watchful eye in littoral (shallow) coastal waters. For example, underwater cameras at shipyards monitor for intruders who might attempt to row up to a ship and attach surveillance or explosive devices. These biologically inert foams, which are impenetrable to water and resistant to hydrostatic pressure, provide buoyancy up to depths of 2,400 feet (coated), making them ideal for underwater robotics, such as remotely operated vehicles.

Supportive collaboration

These specialized applications extend from explorations of deep space to securely cradling nuclear payloads. Whether it’s determining if a specific design can be built or offering guidance and evaluation on what can be manufactured, General Plastics’ role is mission-critical for defense and deep space operations.

Contact our expert to learn more.