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New Flexible Ceramic Material Delivers Lightweight Heat Protection and Cost Savings

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DIDCOT, UNITED KINGDOM – July 17, 2009: Thermal management specialist Zircotec has developed what is believed to be the first ever flexible ceramic heat shield material. The new patent pending ZircoFlex product offers a low-cost solution to the thermal protection of vital engine components and is easily applied to the material surface. The product will be supplied in a roll, and is set to revolutionise the use of ceramic materials for heat protection in a wide range of automotive applications.

“ZircoFlex has the potential to transform the use of ceramic heat protection,” says Zircotec sales director Peter Whyman. “For the first time these coatings can be installed in-line to parts and assemblies during manufacture, even in high volume applications, without disrupting production flow. We are continuing our research into flexible ceramic coatings and plan to produce an expanded range of ZircoFlex foils using a range of alternative substrates.”

Zircotec’s plasma sprayed ThermoHold® based coatings are already used for the protection of metallic and composite components in an increasing number of applications. Applied to the material surface in a lightweight layer, Zircotec’s engineered coatings can reduce surface temperatures by up to 33 percent. A limitation of the process has, until now, been the need to treat parts directly using 14000ºK plasma sprays.

Now, Zircotec has developed a new technology that allows its coatings to be supplied as a thin aluminium backed foil. The new material is lightweight at only 460g/m2 and only 0.25mm thick. ZircoFlex foil is however robust and easy to handle. It can be cut and installed by hand or machine, and is easily fixed in place using mechanical fasteners or high temperature adhesives, allowing it to be integrated directly into conventional production or maintenance operations.

Ceramic coatings are naturally brittle, which has limited their use up until now to rigid substrates. The new ZircoFlex product, which is the culmination of more than five years’ intensive research and materials science, uses a new technology in which the ceramic material is sprayed in the form of thousands of individual ‘platelets’ on the surface of the foil. While they are close-packed to provide comprehensive heat protection, this structure allows the foil to be bent and manipulated to suit different geometries, and it can even be folded tightly through 180o without damaging the thermal barrier. ZircoFlex can be purchased online via at a unit price of £69.70 + VAT per 58cm x 90cm sheet.