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Dual-Function 3D Fiber-Reinforced Transparent Material for Ballistic Protection and Shock Attenuation


OBJECTIVE: Feasibility studies to investigate and develop advanced novel transparent composite materials based on advanced fibers to be manufactured into thin lightweight transparent armor to meet payload, protection, and performance requirements for current and next-generation tactical platforms. DESCRIPTION: Current transparent armor panels are extremely heavy and thick, and pose integration challenges, as well as performance and payload penalties on tactical vehicles. These problems have often resulted in the minimization of transparent armor windows, which reduces situational awareness and may increase the platform"s vulnerability. This solicitation's focus and objectives are to address those challenges by exploiting innovative materials, designs, and/or manufacturing processes to create a lighter transparent armor different from the current technology in order to meet the protection level requirements. Synthetic materials that take advantage of manufacturing techniques to develop fiber-based materials with three dimensional axial control including weaving techniques are of interest for this project. Recent advances in this area have resulted in development of materials with superior properties in strength, stiffness, toughness, and ballistic shock mitigation properties. With improvement of nanotechnology, discovery and exploitation of various nanostructures (such as, but not limited to, nanofibers, clay nanoplatelets, nanotubes, nanowires, etc.) and advances in composites fabrication processes it is possible to develop new structures and materials that can be integrated into a transparent armor system which can lead to tougher, lighter, and thinner transparent ballistic panels. A lighter transparent armor is needed to improve mobility, maneuverability, and survivability of crew personnel. The goal of this solicitation is to develop a new material that can offer enhanced ballistic protection with at least 30% reduction in weight and significant reduction in thickness to emphasize the importance of both light-weight and thinness at comparable cost in comparison to currently fielded transparent armor windows. Transparency requirements include at least 85% transmission of the maximum solar emission at 550 nm. Refraction coefficient and coefficient of thermal expansion of the materials should be similar to that of glass, which is 1.45 in the 400-800 nm wavelength range. Stability of the index of refraction should be investigated in the range of -20 C to +40 C. The transparent armor panels must maintain the improved ballistic performance at low temperatures (-40F) and withstand thermal cycling ballistic testing profile (-60 to 180F) avoiding delamination. PHASE I: Phase I will consist of feasibility studies of an innovative design concept for transparent armor panel by utilizing advanced materials and/or innovative fabrication techniques. The constructor must demonstrate a proof of principal 12in x 12in prototype transparent armor panel based on the proposed technology. The panels will be tested for the transparency requirements stated above and will be subjected to high and low temperature cycling as mentioned above to ensure environmental robustness. This proof of principal shall show an improvement of at least 15% compared to the current basline of ~50 psf for a standard transparent armor laminate. The thickness may be up to 4.5". The transparent ballistic panels shall defeat, at a minimum, multi-hit .30 caliber 7.62 mm Armor Piercing bullet threat at muzzle velocity. The multi-hit pattern to be utilized is available in the Army-Tank Purchase Description (ATPD) 2352. PHASE II: Based on proof of concept the selected materials, design configuration, and manufacturing process approach shall be optimized to ensure the highest performing material for the lowest possible cost. Fabricate twelve (12) 400mm x400mm coupons for ballistic tests conducted by TARDEC. The contractor must verify the repeatability and the ballistic performances of the samples they are sending to TARDEC for ballistic testing prior to submitting the coupons to TARDEC. These results shall be provided to TARDEC. The contractor must also build a sufficient number of coupons and conduct environmental testing as described in ATPD 2352. The transparent panels provided to TARDEC shall defeat the threat identified in the description section. These panels shall show an improvement of at least 30% compared to the current baseline of ~50 psf for a standard transparent armor laminate. The thickness may be up to 4.5". The transparent ballistic panels shall defeat, at a minimum, multi-hit .50 caliber Armor Piercing bullet threat at muzzle velocity. The multi-hit pattern to be utilized is available in the Army-Tank Purchase Description (ATPD) 2352. Additionally, the contractor shall provide a cost and manufacturability assessment for the material developed via this effort. PHASE III: The development of a novel lightweight transparent armor materials will directly impact military vehicle ballistic resistance capabilities, which can also be adapted to address civilian defense and automotive safety issues. Additionally, such technology will have a broad range of commercial applications in the airline industry. The new transparent armor materials will benefit light weight tactical vehicles enhancing agility, survivability, mobility, and payload capabilities. The developed concept will be tested on light- to medium-weight army tactical vehicles with the potential for the translational implementations. The commercial market for the developed composite includes aircrafts, helicopters, auto industry, law enforcement, security vehicles, and security construction (bank windows, check points, etc.). REFERENCES: 1. Huang, J.; Durden, H.; Chowdhury, M. Bio-inspired Armor Protective Material Systems for Ballistic Shock Mitigation. Materials and Design 2011, 32, 37023710. 2. Klement, R.; Rolc, S.; Mikulikova, J. K., Transparent Armor Materials, J. Eur. Chem. Soc. 2008, 28, 1091-1095. 3. Ortiz, C.; Boyce, M.C. Bioinspired Structural Materials. Science 2008, 319, 1053. 4. MIL-PRF 46108C, Performance Specification: Armor Transparent. 5. MIL-STD-662, V50 Ballistic Test for Armor. 6. Rai, K.N.; Singh, D. Impact Resistance Behavior of Polymer Nanocomposite Transparent Panels. Journal of Composite Materials 2009, 43, 139-151. 7. Yang, M.; Cao, K.; Sui, L.; Qi, Y.; Zhu, J.; Waas, A.; Arruda, E. M.; Kieffer, J.; Thouless, M. D.; Kotov, N. A., Dispersions of Aramid Nanofibers: A New Nanoscale Building Block. ACS Nano 2011, 51. 8. Liu, Dahsin,"Impact-induced Delamination - A View of Material Property Mismatching,"J. Composite Materials, 22 (7), 674-691, 1988
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