Diversified Plastics Inc., PEEK playing role in space probe

By Michael Lauzon
Correspondent

Published: May 4, 2012 6:00 am ET

This illustration shows what officials expect the Juno spacecraft to look like as it approaches Jupiter. The space probe was launched in August and should begin orbiting Jupiter in early July 2016. (Concept illustration courtesy of NASA and SwRI)

Related to this story

Topics Materials Injection Molding Design
Companies & Associations

MINNEAPOLIS (May 4, 3:45 p.m. ET) — Polyetheretherketone is out of this world — in a space probe hurtling to Jupiter.

PEEK was chosen for two components of the Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment aboard NASA’s Juno Space Probe. The Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio developed the JADE sensors for electrons and ions for the probe.

Diversified Plastics Inc. of Minneapolis molded the PEEK components, said Diversified Vice President Annette Lund.

“Southwest Research Institute approached us to produce the plastic components because of our expertise with high-performance thermoplastics and our willingness to produce high-precision, small-quantity parts,” said Lund. “The customer’s specifications included using polyetheretherketone and we have experience molding this thermoplastic material for our medical-device customers.”

PEEK was chosen because it is stiff, strong and lightweight, said Southwest Research design engineer Chip Beebe in a telephone interview. It also has a low outgassing profile compared with most plastics exposed to the high vacuum of space, he added.

One part required molding PEEK around an aluminum ring and the other needed multiple aluminum inserts that were first machined and then press-fit into the molded plastics.

“We were able to perform all the operations in-house, saving our customer time and money,” Lund said.

Diversified’s willingness to maintain a low PEEK inventory and to do very short runs in the job helped it capture the contract, Lund said. Not counting the cost of building molds, the project only grossed about $15,000.

The parts measure 5-7 inches in diameter. They were molded in single-cavity tools at mold temperatures of about 700° F, the company said. Diversified used unreinforced PEEK from Thornton Cleveleys, Eng­land-based Victrex plc, and 30 percent glass-reinforced, high-flow PEEK from RTP Co. of Winona, Minn.

The unreinforced part was chosen as an electrical shield to prevent arcing, Beebe said. The reinforced part has a structural function. PEEK is also resistant to ultraviolet radiation in the sun’s rays.

The space probe was launched in August 2011 and is expected to begin orbiting Jupiter in early July 2016.

Diversified recently became an employee-owned firm. Lund said it boasts a higher-than-average ratio of women in management positions.


Comments

Diversified Plastics Inc., PEEK playing role in space probe

By Michael Lauzon
Correspondent

Published: May 4, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

Force majeure declared at six European sites since mid-March

April 17, 2015 1:10 pm ET

At least six European resin makers have declared force majeure on polyethylene, polypropylene and related products since mid-March, leading to higher ...    More

Image

Executives step down from Star Thermoplastics

April 17, 2015 12:56 pm ET

Executives Randall Fortin and Larry Johnson no longer are with materials firm Star Thermoplastics Alloys & Rubbers Inc.    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary,...    More

Image

Hanwha Azdel adds capacity in Lynchburg

April 16, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Composite maker Hanwha Azdel Inc. will add space and a new production line at its Lynchburg, Va., production facility, the company announced April 16.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events