SCIENCE | TECHNIQUES

SCIENCE

Even more spectacular than our creations are the underlying scientific theories which begot them. The beauty of The New Flesh Workshop does not end at the surface but penetrates deep down to the molecular level.

Thermosets

Our plastic components are formed by a process known as thermosetting, in which the starting material is heated to a soft, malleable state before being molded to the desired shape and eventually cooled.

The heating process causes covalent bonds to form between polymer chains (cross-linking), making the plastic stronger, rigid, and more stable under stress. The result is a lightweight material that is resistant to puncture.

Epoxy Resins

The resins we employ for fiber lamination are another example of thermosetting material. The polymer is formed from the reaction of an epoxide resin with a polyamine hardener. The hardener reacts to create cross-linkages between the polymers of the resin.

These cross-links dramatically increase the material’s hardness and strength.

Fibers

Kevlar is a synthetic fiber composed of polymer chains whose bonds are particularly strong.

Its low density and high strength mean Kevlar is 5 times stronger than steel by weight.

Carbon Fiber is similar to Kevlar but is instead composed mostly of carbon atoms bonded together in microscopic crystals. The crystals bond in a parallel alignment to make each individual fiber extremely strong for its size.

Although synthetic fibers can out-perform many other materials in terms of strength, this property is unidirectional; that is, the fiber’s greatest strength is along its axis and it is weaker when the force acts in any other direction.

To overcome this weakness, multiple layers of Kevlar and carbon fiber sheets are often layered with their fiber axes running angular to each other. However, the greatest increase in strength comes when these layers are laminated with an epoxy resin which cures in place. The epoxy creates a matrix that fixes the fibers in place while helping to absorb and distribute stresses. The resulting composite material is analogous to the natural structure of wood in which long cellulose fibers are bonded in a sticky matrix of lignin, providing it with strength, flexibility, and durability.

NFW uses a low-pressure vacuum fabrication method to cure the fiber sheets into the desired shape. Our process allows the epoxy resin to fill the space between fibers without penetrating the fibers themselves (doing so would compromise structural integrity under high impact). The final product has a an impact resistance greater than that of steal, even at a much lower density.

TECHNIQUES

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