Micro-Universal Fit Fasteners (MUFF)

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8650-09-M-5027
Agency Tracking Number: F083-078-1181
Amount: $99,983.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: AF083-078
Solicitation Number: 2008.3
Small Business Information
20 New England Business Center, Andover, MA, 01810
DUNS: 076337877
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Group Leader, Microtechnologies
 (732) 329-3700
Business Contact
 Christopher Rollins
Title: Vice President
Phone: (301) 306-0010
Email: rollins@researchsupport.com
Research Institution
Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes to develop Micro Universal Fit Fasteners (MUFF’s), a solution to the Air Force need for an adhesive for appliqué-based replacements for paint on surfaces such as aircraft exteriors. Fluoropolymer film appliqués have been developed for various paint replacement applications ranging from rougher industrial surfaces to demanding ones such as aerodynamic surfaces on F-16''s. Appliqué films reduce environmental impact while potentially providing additional functionality, but the adhesives required to attach them to surfaces are difficult to remove. MUFF layers will behave like extremely strong, micro-engineered hook-and-loop fasteners between appliqué films and the surfaces to be covered. The biologically-inspired, photolithographically-structured MUFF fasteners will provide high adhesion force when engaged, but disengage for easy removal. MUFF-coated appliqués will be easily applied, removed, and replaced as needed. The goal in Phase I of MUFF development will be to design fasteners with the most promising different attachment schemes, develop a microfabrication technique and use it to fabricate prototype units, demonstrate feasibility by measuring their performance in a laboratory setting, and select the most promising design for Phase II development. BENEFIT: There are commercialized appliqué replacements for top-coat paints available; 3M has various films ranging from the no-adhesive 3951 film to the 5004 aircraft exterior film. These fluoropolymer films provide solvent-free surfaces, simple application, and chemical resistance, but all rely on pressure-sensitive adhesives for attachment. Easily-removable Velcro-like films are an attractive alternative for pressure-sensitive adhesives, but have insufficient strength and survivability for top-coat appliqué use. The durability and strength provided by MUFF films will be a great advantage – being able to reuse MUFF-equipped appliqués and continue to use them in the long term will mean that MUFF film will displace adhesives for such applications. In addition to use in appliqués, the strength of MUFF tape will be so different from existing hook-and-loop films that the operational envelope will be pushed quite far. As a result, other applications range from clothing fasteners to connections in industrial settings.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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