Technical Papers

Discussion of SOLIMIDE® Foams

There are a myriad of foams available on the market for thousands of different applications; every foam has different physical characteristics that define how that foam will perform in any given application. When selecting the right foam, the first characteristic to define is the physical function of the foam. Does the foam need to cushion a specific part from shock or jolt, insulate to contain heat or cool air, or control sound?

Since cellular polymers first became generally available, it has been recognized that in a fire condition, they behave quite differently from conventional solid polymers. Cellular polymers usually ignite and burn quite rapidly because of the high surface area resulting from their cellular structure, readily available access to oxygen and low thermal inertia.

SOLIMIDE® Foam, the trade name for polyimide foam, occupies a unique portion of the foam spectrum. Polyimides are polymers that usually consist of aromatic rings coupled by imide linkages. They are thermally stable in inert atmospheres at temperatures up to 500°C. Polyimide foams are derived from polyimide resins and have demonstrated excellent long term thermal stability for a variety of high temperature applications. This proprietary foam was developed for NASA in response to the need for a flame resistant, thermally insulating material that could handle the extreme hot and cold temperature conditions that spacecrafts encounter. SOLIMIDE® Foams’ resistance to heat flow make it ideal as a thermal insulator and its very-low density make it ideal for this weight-sensitive application. Add self-extinguishing and non-toxic generating properties to the flammability performance in ignition, flaming combustion and smoldering combustion environments and this makes SOLIMIDE® Foams a good fit for any vehicular application such as watercraft, passenger automotive, commercial vehicle, RV, aircraft and spacecraft.

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