Fire protection is important for some aerospace textile functions, but dimensional stability in the face of extreme temperatures is particularly crucial. A moving part that changes size or shape with temperature won’t continue to function adequately. Textiles are also used for gaskets and other applications where dimensional stability is essential to maintaining a seal.
Textiles used on the exterior of space-faring craft need to accommodate very low temperatures (approaching zero degrees when the craft is in open space), as well as potential extremes of high temperature. Certain parts of airplanes are also subject to wide temperature variations. Resistance to temperature extremes is especially important if the space craft are designed to re-enter the earth's or another planet's atmosphere at a high velocity. Indeed, a textile-based composite, Nomex, is used to protect the entire space craft and occupants from this heat extreme.
Polybenzimidazole and alumina-boria-silica textile composites are among other fiber-reinforced polymers with excellent temperature-related parameters. 3M Nextel Aerospace fabrics, for example, maintain integrity at temperatures up to 2000°F.
Other valuable qualities for aerospace textiles include low electrical conductivity, sound insulation, thermal insulation, and corrosion resistance.
The engineering parameters for aerospace textiles comprises a vital consideration of dimensional stability, with a specific focus on stiffness to weight ratio and stability under temperature extremes. However, the role of textiles within aeronautics continues to evolve and it will be interesting to see how new innovations will contribute to aerospace engineering.