Monday, November 14, 2011

Import Laws

Sometimes you run up against something you just never thought would be an issue.

I called up a supplier today to order a 1kg bucket of fancy material. I had the part# from the website, and a quote for the price (a very fancy price, I might add), and my credit card was in hand to seal the deal.

"Oh I'm sorry," said the polite salesperson, "we can't ship that to you."

And why ever not?

"That material can't be shipped outside Germany because of conditions under the Missile Defense Treaty."

Say what?

Turns out if you coat this fancy material on, say, a warhead, it becomes invisible to radar.

Well I guess that could be a problem. So no 1kg buckets for Miss Outlier.

The only reason that product was on the website at all is for big industrial players who need giant amounts. In those cases the supplier company will go through the hoops of getting export certificates from Germany, the corresponding import certificates to the U.S., and all of the red tape in between. But for us tiny researchers requesting sample sizes (yes, 1kg is a sample size), it's just not worth it to go through the hassle.

Fine. Moving along...


  1. Is this IR absorptive paint (stab in the dark). Try "Avian Black." It's made in MA so you should have no problems.

  2. It's actually a conductive polymer - which I had no idea affected radar. But good guess, and thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Wow!! What you've just told me reminds of the news story that came out a few months ago about that Swedish guy who was using radio active material in his kitchen! What exactly he was doing I don't remember but something that the rest of us would have done in a lab.

  4. Yes, because we all have missiles we want to make invisible to radar. What makes me laugh though is they make it sound like big suppliers and industrial players can't possibly have shady intentions like that.

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