Best Supporting Actor: How Nomex Is Used in Top Hollywood Blockbusters

Film reel, clapper, director's chair, film camera

Whether you like action, comedy, drama (or all of the above), you’ve probably seen a movie focused around a dangerous job or situation. High risk is the domain of Nomex; the PPE the hero or heroine wears, the protective wrappings in the background, or even the components of a vehicle may have been made using Nomex.

With various uses across many high-risk applications, Nomex offers a viable solution for fire-resistant uniforms and clothing, weather-resistant parts, lightweight structural components, and heat shield padding.

Whether you’re an outright cinephile or just enjoy the occasional flick, here are some feature films that may have used Nomex solutions.

Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Even after more than 40 years of use by firefighters and emergency crews, Nomex is still a primary fiber choice for firefighting PPE around the world. The high melting point of the material (660° F) makes it an ideal choice for fire protection, far surpassing wet cotton gear or other older solutions used by firefighters. Though new technologies have made turnout coats and other PPE lighter and easier to move in, all of this equipment still contains a protective layer of Nomex.

Even if he was lighting fires instead of fighting them, Fahrenheit 451’s Guy Montag wore a sleek protective suit to keep him safe while he lit up piles of books with a flamethrower. While burning books might be the norm in this dystopian future, clearly safety is still an issue. Given the longevity of Nomex in firefighting, it seems pretty likely that wherever the future takes us, fire-resistant suits will keep using Nomex for a long time to come.

The Martian (2015)

Space is known as the final frontier, and that means it is full of risks. Mitigating these risks requires innovative PPE solutions, which is why NASA used Nomex in the original Apollo spacesuits. When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Nomex helped to protect Neil Armstrong as he stepped out of the lunar lander and took his giant leap for mankind.

Though the spacesuits in “The Martian” appear much more advanced than the one worn by Neil Armstrong, NASA still uses Nomex in today’s spacesuits. Therefore, it’s highly likely that the spacesuit worn by famed fictional botanist Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) as he treks around the surface of Mars also contained Nomex layers. This level of protection enabled the astronaut to worry about more important things than the dangerous environment of the Red Planet — such as running out of ketchup.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Professional NASCAR drivers have a risky job and may sometimes find themselves exposed to flames and heat during a crash. The NASCAR organization itself has little in the way of safety regulations, leaving drivers and car owners to use their best judgment when it comes to safety practices and PPE. Unfortunately for these drivers, the question isn’t whether or not they will crash — but when.

While Tom Cruise can’t help them in this situation (sorry, Ricky Bobby), Nomex racing suits provide ample protection to drivers, ensuring that they can significantly reduce the risk of burns during an accident. The racing suits invested in by drivers and their sponsors feature specific designs to protect drivers from the hazards of the job. For example, gasoline burns between 1800-2100° F, and suits offer protection against heat in this range from 3-40 seconds depending on the suit rating.

The Dark Knight (2008)

When NASCAR needs heat shields for its vehicles, it goes straight to Nomex. The flame and heat resistance provided by the material makes lightweight Nomex fiber sheet structures an indispensable material for high-temperature automotive applications — and not only high-performance race cars, but passenger cars and trucks, and maybe even iconic superhero vehicles.

So if you’re the hero Gotham deserves and need a car that provides protection against heat and flames resulting from The Joker’s artillery, what material would you choose? We think it’s likely that the infamous Batmobile (and probably the Batsuit too) contains Nomex to protect Batman from any fiery risks he may come across while performing his duties as the caped crusader. Nomex hoses likely exist under the hood also, given that we never see Batman staring confusedly under the popped hood of the Batmobile by the side of the road.

Top Gun (1986)

When you remember Maverick and Goose from “Top Gun,” you probably think of their need for speed, or perhaps Tom Cruise’s less-than-impressive rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” If you look at what they are wearing in the cockpit, however, it’s possible that those flight suits were carefully fabricated from Nomex for ultimate protection. Nomex is currently the material of choice by the United States Air Force for the flight suits worn by fighter pilots.

For any application that embraces pilots who aren’t happy unless they’re going Mach 2 with their hair on fire, Nomex flight suits offer a strong, comfortable, flame-resistant solution that withstands temperatures up to 5720° F. In the rare event of a cockpit fire, this protection can mean the difference between life or death. Conversely, Nomex flight suits keep pilots warm in cold high-altitude temperatures.

Airplane! (1980)

Surely there weren’t any Nomex fibers to be found in the slapstick 80s comedy “Airplane!,” were there? You bet there were — and don’t call us Shirley.

The aerospace sector uses honeycomb composites made of Nomex to fabricate everything from landing gear doors and cabin floors to wing edges. Nomex composites provide strong and inflexible solutions with natural corrosion and flame resistance, making them ideal for a broad range of aircraft structural components.

Nomex in the Real World

Dangerous jobs require tough solutions. Even if you aren’t going to Mars tomorrow or planning on driving a racecar above 200 mph, Nomex makes an ideal solution for a broad range of safety applications where heat or fire resistance may be a factor. Nomex is lighter than many competitive materials and also features improved strength and heat performance over many other personal protective equipment (PPE) material choices.

For help sourcing Nomex material for your design or Nomex PPE for your application, check out our list of Nomex distributors.


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