Micro-Universal Fit Fasteners (MUFF)

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
20 New England Business Center, Andover, MA, 01810
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
John Kline
Group Leader, Microtechnologies
(732) 329-3700
Business Contact:
Christopher Rollins
Vice President
(301) 306-0010
Research Institute:
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 appliqu,-based replacements for paint on surfaces such as aircraft exteriors. Fluoropolymer film appliqu,s have been developed for various paint replacement applications ranging from rougher industrial surfaces to demanding ones such as aerodynamic surfaces on F-16''s. Appliqu, 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 appliqu, 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 appliqu,s 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 appliqu, 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 appliqu, use. The durability and strength provided by MUFF films will be a great advantage - being able to reuse MUFF-equipped appliqu,s 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 appliqu,s, 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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