Conformal antennas for missiles must withstand the high-temperatures associated hypersonic flights, in excess of MACH 4. Finding the ideal material to form these complex shapes proved challenging. A new material, HotBlox, was identified to possess the properties to withstand the high-temperatures. However, in its current formulation, it lacked the necessary dielectric property requirements for the antenna to function properly.
An additional challenge that had to be overcome was the thin cross-sections of the two-part conformal antennas, which presented problems when machined.
NCDMM worked with Alliant Techsystems and American Technical Coatings to meet the dual demands of aerodynamic heating and dielectric requirements. The goals of the project was to create two formulations of HotBlox with ideal dielectric properties of 2.0 and 4.0 and develop a process for molding the parts to near net shape.
One of the main benefits of HotBlox technology is the material’s ability to be injection molded into near net shapes that require no further machining after the sintering process. After extensive research, testing, and reformulation, a HotBlox formula was developed to meet dielectric constants.
Through the implementation of the HotBlox injection molding technology, $6.6 million in cost savings/avoidance was achieved. Additionally, this developed material has the potential for adoption in future injection molding processes.