JPS Composite Materials created the Astroquartz® line of fabrics in 1964 to support the NASA Gemini and Apollo missions. Since then, Astroquartz has established itself as the recognized leader in pure (99.9% +) silica grade fabrics, offering unparalleled electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. Today, Astroquartz plays a number of critical roles in the aerospace industry, improving connectivity in commercial and military aircraft, providing durable shielding for orbital and Martian explorers, and protecting temperature-sensitive components from the heat of reentry.
JPS was the first to bring high-purity silica fabric to the aerospace industry, and we remain the world leader in quartz fabric production for composite applications. Whatever your application, we are proud to offer an AMS 3846-certified fabric that meet your needs.
What is Astroquartz?
Astroquartz® is a high-performance fabric composed of 99.99% pure fused silica yarn – a synthetic material with the best thermal performance of any glass. Fused silica offers the electrical, optical, and thermal performance found with naturally occurring quartz materials, but with the added benefit of superior ultraviolet transmissibility.
To produce Astroquartz fabric, JPS weaves silica glass yarns according to application-based pattern and specifications. The production process includes a tightly controlled yarn preparation process, slashing, and weaving that together yield a durable fabric with a superior surface. After weaving, the fabric is finished with a coupling agent that improves resin wet out and the strength of the fabric-to-resin interface. The standard Astroquartz fabric finish was carefully engineered to optimize the mechanical, thermal, and electrical characteristics of the fabric. Specialty finishes are also available to suit custom applications.
Types of Astroquartz Fabrics
Astroquartz II and III, with fiber diameters of 9μm and 14μm, respectively, represent the flagship silica fabrics at JPS. Both Astroquartz II and III offer:
- Low dielectric constant
- High strength
- High thermal reliability
- Unmatched purity of 99.99% silica
For robust performance aerospace clients can’t beat Astroquartz. In addition to the signature Astroquartz II and III fabrics, our Astroquartz line also includes a broad assortment of products designed to meet diverse industrial needs. These include:
Astroquartz II Chopped Fiber
Ideal for use in reinforced plastics and fiberglass composite materials, Astroquartz II chopped fibers comprise high-purity fused silica filaments cut to a desired length ranging of 1/8” to 1”. These chopped filaments come from the same high-purity, 9μm fibers that create Astroquartz II’s superior performance characteristics. Added to other products such as nonwoven composites, the fibers increase thermal resistance and ablation while resisting damage from chemicals or moisture.
Astroquartz II Roving
Astroquartz II roving is made from continuous filaments with a density of 2.2 g/cm and a fiber tensile strength of 0.5 MSI. Like other Astroquartz offerings, our roving features 99.99% silica fibers exclusive of binder. Standard 20-end roving contains 4,800 nine micron diameter fused filaments which is equivalent to 20 ends of 150 1/0 yarn.
Astroquartz II Sewing Thread
High-purity, extremely fine Astroquartz sewing thread offers excellent thermal resistance and withstands prolonged use in environments reaching 2000°F. In addition, our sewing thread comes coated in PTFE to improve chemical resistance and enhance durability.
Like Astroquartz sewing thread, Astroquartz yarn is made from extremely fine continuous filaments of 99.99% pure fused silica, exclusive of binder, capable of extended heat exposure to 2000°F. This yarn’s superior temperature resistance makes it an ideal choice for high-temperature insulation, including braided insulation for thermocouples, cables, heating elements, and similar components. Compared to high-silica leached yarn, Astroquartz also features five times the yarn yield, which lends it higher tensile strength and abrasion resistance for maximum durability in demanding environments.
The Astroquartz s/550 mat contains high-purity silica fibers impregnated with a polyvinyl alcohol binder. The combination creates a stable mat that affords easy transport, fabrication, and installation. Heating the mat to 900°F for 1 hour or 500°F for 24 hours will effectively remove the 4-5% binder content.
Astroquartz® fabric outperforms other glass fabrics by its impressive physical, mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties.
- Physical. With its high filament tensile strength of 870,000 PSI (6.0GPa), Astroquartz pure silica has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of all comparable high-temperature materials.
- Mechanical. Despite their strength, Astroquartz fabrics function well in applications subject to torsion and flexing.
- Chemical. Astroquartz is chemically stable, water-insoluble, and non-hygroscopic. Halogens and most common acids have no impact on Astroquartz products. However, Astroquartz products should not be used in environments with high concentrations of alkalis, hydrofluoric acid, or hot phosphoric acid.
- Thermal. Astroquartz easily surpasses the thermal properties of e-glass or s-glass fibers, with temperature resistance up to 2000°F. Above this temperature, slow devitrification or crystallization occurs, limiting flexibility. Though Astroquartz may soften above 2372°F, it will not liquefy. In addition, Astroquartz’s coefficient of thermal expansion is close to zero in all directions, making it an ideal reinforcement where dimensional stability under thermal cycling is critical. This low coefficient factor also provides great resistance to thermal shock, meaning Astroquartz performs well under exposure to abrupt temperature variations.
- Electrical. Astroquartz’s dielectric constant @ 1 MHz is 3.7 and its’ dissipation factor @ 1 MHz is 0.0001 surpassing all other mineral fibers. Astroquartz products maintain their outstanding performance characteristics at high frequencies and temperatures. For these reasons, Astroquartz fiber is the best choice for radomes and advanced printed circuit boards.
Ideal Performance Characteristics for Industrial Applications
Quartz material properties align closely with the expectations of aerospace and electrical and clients. Key advantages of Astroquartz in these settings include:
- High fabric strength
- High temperature resistance
- Abrasion resistance
Combined with excellent electrical performance, these benefits make Astroquartz an ideal choice for diverse composite applications.
Applications of Astroquartz®
Astroquartz’s impressive performance characteristics allow it to play many roles in the aerospace industry and beyond. Additional aerospace applications come from manned/unmanned space programs and military aircraft, all of which benefit from Astroquartz’s thermal resistance and electrical performance.
Whatever your application, the team at JPS would be happy to help you find the Astroquartz product that best suits your needs.
JPS’ World-Leading Expertise in Quartz Fabric Production
Astroquartz pure silica fabrics from JPS Composite Materials have set the global standard for quartz reinforcement fabric, featuring industry-leading performance with extensive customization options. To learn more about how Astroquartz® can benefit your application, contact JPS today.