Advantages of Frontal Polymerization: long pot life with very rapid cure.

For information on licensing of frontal polymerization technology

We have been successful in demonstrating the tremendous advantages of this technology including fast cure times, use of either transparent or opaque fillers, ability to work/rework composite until activated by light or small amount of heat, and ultra-low energy consumption. By choice of materials it will be possible to formulate resins that cure to composites with properties ranging form rubbery and pliable to hard and impact resistant. The thermal stability of the cured composites is exceptional.

Composites are traditionally cured by using a two-part formulation that reacts upon mixing or by using an autoclave to cure the formulation at a high temperature. BONDO and fiberglass are cured by mixing two components, one of which uses a redox reaction to slowly initiate the polymerization at room temperature. Five-minute epoxy is also a two-part formulation that starts reacting upon mixing. The disadvantage is that once the components are mixed, the system is reacting and so the time for setting up the materials is limited. Large composites such as for aerospace applications are usually cured in a large oven, or autoclave.

Frontal polymerization avoids the problem of a system curing at room temperature and of the necessity of mixing two components. All the components required for reaction are present in the formulation. All that is required is the initial input of energy to start the front. Also, because the reaction uses its own heat release to drive the process, no autoclave is necessary.

1) Rapid repair of structures. A putty containing reagents and filler can be forced into a hole and the front ignited, allowing repair in seconds. The structures could be a spacecraft or a stealth composite-structure on a ship. Any structure that needs repair rapidly would benefit from our ‘super fast BONDO’. We are working with Lockheed on a process for rapid repair of aircraft and with a consumer company for rapid repair.
Figure 1 illustrates how a hole was filled with a putty. A front was ignited with a lamp, starting the front that cured the material to a rock-hard form within seconds. There is no limit to the diameter or depth of the hole that


Figure 1. A hole was drilled in block of polyethylene. The resin and filler were placed into the hole. The front was ignited with a heat lamp, and in seconds a rock hard composite is formed

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Frontal polymerization can be used to repair a large hole. In this movie (click on the image) a nail is inserted in the reactive putty, and then the front is ignited with a soldering iron.

2) Figure 2 illustrates that the putty can be free standing and still support a front. Such materials could be used to provide a seal along a crack or around a pipe to provide a concrete-like seal.

Figure 2.

3) In situ fabrication of parts could be accomplished using molds and the ignition of frontal polymerization to rapidly produce the part with low energy consumption in very short times.



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