Although nanotechnology for lightning strike protection (LSP) was a hot topic several years ago, many of the then-promising technologies have dropped out of sight. One exception is Niles Nanofabrix, a recently unveiled new material from metal mesh provider Niles International (Niles, Ohio). Made by integra-ting low-cost carbon nanoparticles into a nonwoven film or sheet, Nanofabrix can be used as a surface ply in a composite layup or prepreg to enhance conductivity properties The material also can contribute to abrasion and corrosion protection. Company COO Ian Thompson says that although the product is highly conductive, LSP testing is still underway, and conductivity results aren’t yet available for evaluation.
At the recent JEC Europe 2013 show, Niles engineer Dante Guerra showed a sample of a carbon fiber laminate that incorporated Nanofabrix. It was connected to an electrical power source to demonstrate how quickly the sample heats up for de-icing applications. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding and electrostatic discharge protection appear to be winning applications for the new product. According to Guerra, Nanofabrix is likely to be significantly less costly than other available conductive materials when production is underway.