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    SDC’s LLC Canister Completes Two Successful Missile Launches

    SDC Recognized by NASA for Contributions to 3D-MAT Development for Orion Spacecraft


    Washington, DC, October 2015 – NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) program presented San Diego Composites, Inc. (SDC) with a special commendation during their annual meeting in Washington, DC.  The special commendation was bestowed to recognize SDC’s key contribution to the development of the 3-Dimensional Multifunctional Ablative Thermal Protection System (3D-MAT) – an innovative material that consists of a resin-infused 3D-woven quartz preform. Currently, the 3D-MAT material is the largest fully-densified 3D composite billet in production.

    Click Above to Play Video: Game Changing 3D-MAT Development at SDC (Credit: NASA),

    In order to develop the 3D-MAT material, SDC worked on a team that included researchers at NASA Ames Research Center and Bally Ribbon Mills, who developed the automated weaving process. When other processes were found to be insufficient to achieve full densification, NASA turned to SDC to develop a robust RTM process for the large scale preform. SDC’s resin infusion process achieved the low porosity (<0.5%) that was required for the material to function at its peak.


    A 3D-MAT Pre-Infused Woven Preform (Left, Credit: NASA), Undergoing Infusion at SDC (Middle), and an Infused 3D-MAT Billet (Right, Credit: Ken Kremer, AmericaSpace)

    The 3D-MAT material will be used to fabricate the Orion Compression Pads, which connect the Crew Module to the Service Module. During future missions, the Compression Pads will experience high shock and thermal loads that the carbon phenolic material used for the less-demanding EFT-1 flight test in December 2014 could not meet. Due to its woven structure, the 3D-MAT material exhibits superior properties relative the carbon phenolic used for EFT-1 – including improved interlayer strength, higher compression strength, and lower thermal conductivity. The emergence of 3D-MAT allows NASA to pursue deeper space missions, such as a human mission to Mars by the 2030s.

    3D-MAT Will Be Used for the Compression Pads on EM-1 Flights and Beyond (Credit: NASA)

    The 3D-MAT billets produced by SDC will be next used in Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), the first planned flight of the SLS launch vehicle in 2018. During EM-1, the Orion vehicle, with the 3D-MAT compression pads, will complete a seven day flight around the Moon. In addition to developing the 3D-MAT resin infusion process and producing billets for EM-1, SDC also provided material testing and machining services.

    For more details or inquiries about SDC’s space and stable structures capabilities, please contact Ken Mercer at or by phone at (858)751-0450.

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