It will weigh 470 tons and travel 18,000 miles per hour. Involving the vision and efforts of thousands across the globe, it embodies a pioneering spirit and sense of commitment. It’s the International Space Station. It will lead to unfathomable scientific breakthroughs, making our universe accessible in ways we never could have imagined.
Eyesaver International Inc. (Hanover, MA) has played a crucial role in making this vision a reality. The company is laminating 16 to 18 windows that range in size from 21 to 29 inches in diameter and are 1-1/2-inches thick. These windows will be placed in the International Space Station’s laboratory module and cupola. The laboratory module is considered the centerpiece of the station, where experiments will be performed in near zero gravity. With seven windows, the cupola will offer the stations’ crew a view of robotic operations, spacewalks and experiments.
During Eyesaver’s production process, 3M’s (St. Paul, MN) Optically Clear Laminating Adhesive 8141 is applied to a nonhardcoated clear film adhered to the innermost window, referred to as the scratch pane. The scratch pane protects the outer window, and the film is attached to prevent glass from shattering inside the station. Eyesaver laminates the film and sends it to another company where the film is polished. It then solders a conductive bar to the coating around the window to keep the glass warm.
"3M hit a home run with the film," says Eyesaver co-owner Steve George. "Its uniformity is excellent. There is zero distortion, no coating voids and unmatched flatness." "It has the optical clarity required to photograph through the windows," agrees partner Matthew Smillie.
The 8141 adhesive delivers greater than 99 percent light transmission and a haze level under 0.1 percent for clear transparency. It withstands the elements without delaminating, yellowing or degrading. The adhesive is manufactured under clean room conditions and is free of common adhesive defects.
When completed in 2005, the International Space Station, approximately the size of a Boeing 747, will house a crew of seven and contain six labs, two habitation modules and two logistics modules. Since November 1998, shuttle flights have brought materials into space for assembly. The finished station will contain 46,000 cubic feet of pressurized living and working space for engineers and scientists.
For more information on adhesives, call 3M at 800-362-3550 or visit www.3m.com/bonding.