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Integrated Multilayer InsulationIntegrated multilayer insulation (IMLI) is being developed as an improved alternative to conventional multilayer insulation (MLI), which is more than 50 years old. A typical conventional MLI blanket comprises between 10 and 120 metallized polymer films separated by polyester nets. MLI is the best thermal- insulation material for use in a vacuum, and is the insulation material of choice for spacecraft and cryogenic systems. However, conventional MLI has several disadvantages: It is difficult or impossible to maintain the desired value of gap distance between the film layers (and consequently, it is difficult or impossible to ensure consistent performance), and fabrication and installation are labor-intensive and difficult. The development of IMLI is intended to overcome these disadvantages to some extent and to offer some additional advantages over conventional MLI. The main difference between IMLI and conventional MLI lies in the method of maintaining the gaps between the film layers. In IMLI, the film layers are separated by what its developers call a micro-molded discrete matrix, which can be loosely characterized as consisting of arrays of highly engineered, small, lightweight, polymer (typically, thermoplastic) frames attached to, and placed between, the film layers. The term "micro-molded" refers to both the smallness of the frames and the fact that they are fabricated in a process that forms precise small features, described below, that are essential to attainment of the desired properties. The term "discrete" refers to the nature of the matrix as consisting of separate frames, in contradistinction to a unitary frame spanning entire volume of an insulation blanket.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Dye, Scott
(Quest Product Development Corp. United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 2009
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, April 2009
Subject Category
Composite Materials
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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