December 09th, 2019
With an outstanding combination of electromagnetic properties (dielectric constant of 3.74 and a loss angle of 0.0002 at 10GHz) and mechanical strengths, quartz fiber is the ideal structural reinforcement for high-performance composite materials. It is particularly suited for components with exceptional strength-to-weight ratios and low electromagnetic interference (EMI) characteristics. Air navigation and weather detection, in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC), tele- and satellite communications (SATCOM), and radomes for advanced missile targeting benefit from the unique combination of electromechanical characteristics offered by high purity quartz fiber.
In this blog post, Saint-Gobain Quartz aims to explore the benefits of using quartz fiber with a focus on radome engineering. Firstly, we will explore the material’s properties in more depth before offering a brief overview of the composite manufacturing process.
Quartz fiber is an ultra-pure silica glass that is typically processed into thin amorphous filaments of just a few micrometers (μm) in diameter. Using a choice of proprietary processes, these filaments can be collected either in the form of continuous strands – which are later processing into yarns of rovings – or as a form of felt and wool. Each of these formats is available under the Quartzel® product range from Saint-Gobain, but yarns and rovings are most commonly used in radome manufacturing.
Saint-Gobain Quartzel® produces a homogenous quartz fiber with a nominal silica (SiO2) content of at least 99.95%. Filaments of either 9 – 14 μm are used as the basis for both our yarns and rovings.
Quartz radomes are 3D-shaped products that are either manufactured via the hand-lay-up process or through infusion. In the former, quartz fiber reinforcements impregnated with resin (known as prepreg) are placed in a mold by hand. This is the most common method used to generate radomes for general aviation applications. Infusion using woven socks is primarily used for military and defense components. Each of these manufacturing principles is routinely applied to radomes in both civil and military aviation.
With exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics and low dielectric properties (dk=3,74 and df=0,0002 at 10GHz), quartz fiber provides the protective properties demanded by the very latest generation of antennas and communications equipment used in the aerospace sector. Quartzel® yarns and rovings are routinely utilized as the structural reinforcements for radomes in manned military aircraft (bombers, fighters, and stealth craft), unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles and combat drones (UAVs), nose cones for advanced missile targeting systems, nose and Satcom radomes (Ideal for Ku and Ka bands) for commercial airliners, and much more.
There is a long-standing familiarity between aerospace engineering and composite materials, spanning back to WW2 and the birth of modern aerospace and defense. At Saint-Gobain Quartz, we recognize the tradition for utilizing the highest-quality materials to innovate and improve the performance and functionalities of every component in aircraft design. Consequently, our US plant is certified AS9100 per aerospace specifications, and our French plant is due to receive the same certification in the coming weeks.
With a secure global supply chain spanning the highest quality weavers, pre-preggers, and composite manufacturers Saint-Gobain’s fibers are supplying high-performance Radomes for very demanding applications in aerospace, aviation and defense.