Second Skin

If you have ever struggled to laminate an identity card, just imagine laminating a jet airliner. But that’s just what engineers at 3M are doing, in a bid to replace environmentally unfriendly paint with adhesive films.

Funded by the U. S. Department of Commerce, 3M has tested hundreds of materials to find polymers and glues that can stand up to jet fuel, hydraulic fluids and supersonic speeds. According to 3M project manager David Hoyle, the fluoropolymer film now in advanced testing with Boeing and Lockheed is proving easier to use than paint, which must be applied and removed in a special hangar; the Teflon-like polymer may last longer as well. 3M is also exploring drag-resistant films, and polymers with stealthy properties for military craft are probably not far behind. Hoyle says the tough skins may soon find their way onto interstate road signs and possibly automobiles.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.