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Innovative Dynamics researching silicone tape for military use

By Journal Staff


ITHACA — Innovative Dynamics of Ithaca is developing a new type of silicone rubber tape with the help of Cornell University’s JumpStart program.

The project originally began through the federal Small Business Innovation Research program. The Navy was looking for a new method to bundle and restrain the miles of wiring present throughout its aircraft, says Gail Hickman, vice president at Innovative Dynamics.

One method the military currently uses to bundle wiring involves zip-tie like restraints. Over time, those restraints can crack, Hickman says.

Small bits that fall off the ties can cause damage, she adds. In some cases, the ties can even contribute to wiring becoming loose inside aircraft.

That could eventually lead insulation to wear through and cause arcing, Hickman says.

The other bundling method used by the military involves string ties, she says. But that method requires a specially trained technician, and that makes repairs in the field more challenging.

The tape under development by Innovative Dynamics is similar to the common non-adhesive silicone tape used to repair plumbing. The company is working to reinforce its version and make it more rugged with the help of support fiber added within the fabric of the tape, Hickman explains.

Through the JumpStart program from the Cornell Center for Materials Research, the company and the university will work together to research the ideal material to integrate with the tape, Hickman says. The firm and the school will come up with some prototype samples and test them.

Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) funds the JumpStart program. It aims to help small businesses develop and improve their products through collaborations with universities.

More than 50 companies have participated since the program began. Innovative Dynamics’ project will last throughout the fall semester.

JumpStart projects up to $15,000 are funded by matching company cash and in-kind contributions with JumpStart money. Cash from companies participating is capped at $5,000.

The tape could eventually be used in the private sector as well, Hickman says. It could be used for repairs in cars, homes, commercial buildings, or anywhere else a durable, non-adhesive tape would be useful.

The product could be ready for the commercial market in about six months. Hickman says the company is working with a manufacturer of raw materials used in silicone tapes on commercializing the product.

Before the tape is approved for military use, it will require field testing in a military aircraft, Hickman says. The tape should be ready for defense customers in about a year.

Uses in the military extend beyond aircraft, Hickman adds. The tape could be used to bundle wiring in ships, submarines, ground vehicles, weapons systems, and more.

Innovative Dynamics began in 1988. The company, which specializes in research and development, employs 12 people. It is located at 2560 North Triphammer Road in Ithaca.

Hickman and Joseph Gerardi, company president, founded the firm.

Gerardi has degrees in electrical and aeronautical engineering from the University of Maryland. Hickman has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Maryland.


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