FLEXcon, a family-owned business in Spencer, Massachusetts, has recently landed national attention with their new space-age business partnership. NASA’s Glenn Research Center has agreed to license the production of a special insulator to FLEXcon, a local business in Massachusetts. “We are delighted to secure a licensing agreement for Glenn’s technology,” said Glenn Research Center Director Jim Free, in a press release.
The special insulator is a significant improvement over other products. The material is a polyimide aerogel film that insulates against both heat and cold. The film, which is 500 times stronger than traditional silica aerogels, is currently patent-pending. FLEXcon’s license will allow the Massachusetts business to manufacture and market the film, as well as develop new applications for it.
FLEXcon won’t need to install any new equipment, as their existing manufacturing equipment can be re-calibrated to create the new technology.
“We know how to take their invention and make it commercially feasible, … We’re excited about this. We’re proud of it. … This is a good win for FLEXcon.”
—Bill Sullivan, Vice President of Performance Products, FLEXcon
While the product was developed for use in space suits, it can also be used in a variety of every-day applications. The efficient, lightweight insulator can be used in household applications like refrigerators, dishwashers, and to insulate pipes. It can also be used in clothing. Sullivan explained that, “You don’t want to put on a big parka when you’re climbing up Mt. Everest. You want to put on something that’s light but will give you good thermal energy.”
The polyimide aerogel also has applications in the medical industry as it can be used to insulate the containers used for organ transport and blood storage.
The ability to manufacture and distribute a brand-new bleeding-edge product can be a significant boon for the town of Spencer. The product will be a new sales item, which will increase corporate revenues for the local business. is There is potential for further deals with NASA. According to Free, “By licensing the polyimide aerogel technology to FLEXcon, Glenn will gain a commercialization partner.” This makes the implications of the business partnership exciting, because there may be future collaboration between the two companies. Sullivan shared, “I think more good things are going to come through the relationship NASA has with FLEXcon.”