Lightweight Material for Full-Scale Parachutes
The feasibility of development and production of lightweight nonwoven fabric for parachute cloth application was clearly demonstrated during the SBIR Phase I project. The nonwoven fabrics made during the Phase I project had comparable strength and air permeability as that of the current woven nylon parachute cloth, PIA-C-44378, Type IV at 20% lower fabric basis weight. Additional efforts are needed to further improve fabric formation and thus uniformity and physical properties especially of nonwoven fabrics with basis weights at 30-50% of current woven fabric. The main goal of this US Army SBIR Phase II project is to further improve essential properties of nonwoven fabrics via optimization of polymer blend, fabric and equipment design and processing conditions. The approach would be to design and develop extremely lightweight, high strength nonwoven fabrics with controllable air permeability which could be used as a replacement for current woven parachute canopy fabrics at reduced cost. Product development trials shall be conducted using pilot scale equipment to produce spunbond webs containing splittable bicomponent filaments made of nylon and polyester. The filaments shall be extruded from a spinneret cross section made of 16 and 32 pie shaped segments for easy splittability of filaments into nano-size fibrils. Additionally, filaments made from island-in-sea cross section shall be produced. The extruded spunbond webs shall be hydroentangled and calendered. The fabrics shall be dyed with US Army foliage green and finished for easy release. The fabrics shall be tested extensively for the physical, mechanical, and durability characteristics and compared with the standard woven fabric. Miniature parachute systems shall be designed, produced and tested using both the nonwoven and woven fabrics and compared for performance. Production trials shall be conducted to develop commercial fabric and process and develop a cost model for the fabric. The fabrics shall be manufactured in the USA to meet the requirements of the Berry Amendment. The final deliverables includes submission of 100 linear yards of parachute cloth to the US Army for further testing and evaluation.
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