WL Gore & Assoc

Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

DuPont Launches New Lightweight Helmet Innovation at Eurostary

Monday, June 11th, 2018

DuPont Safety & Construction will launch a new lightweight innovation for tactical helmets, DuPont™ Tensylon® HA120, at Eurosatory, June 11-15, 2018.

“DuPont™ Tensylon® HA120 is a new material for helmets that provides maximum ballistic protection at a lighter weight than traditional helmets, taking some of the load off the men and women on the front lines,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager, DuPont™ Kevlar® and Nomex®.

“Tensylon® HA120 enables helmets to be up to 40 percent lighter than traditional helmets allowing military and law enforcement members worldwide to stay safer and move faster with improved mobility.”

Designed with optimum ballistic properties and impact resistance, Tensylon® HA120 ensures maximum protection and lightweight durability for high performance helmet applications. Optimizing the performance of traditional Tensylon® solid state extruded ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) film technology, allows manufacturers to make lightweight ballistic helmets with superior protection from bullet penetration and low back face deflection (BFD), in a single-step processing cycle. To improve mold release, bonding to paint and abrasion resistance, a Tensylon® HA120 core can be co-molded with outer skins of woven fabrics made with Kevlar® fiber.

“Innovation is a continuous process at DuPont,” Richard said. “We’re constantly looking for new solutions that are stronger, lighter and more comfortable for the men and women protecting us. They deserve the best protection, so they can stay focused on the high-risk job of safeguarding their communities and their countries.”

The new Tensylon® HA120 material and other DuPont ballistics solutions will be featured at the DuPont Safety & Construction booth located in Hall 6, Stand J251 at Eurosatory 2018 at Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte in Paris. Customers and the media also are invited to attend a DuPont Safety & Construction reception at the Le Chalet des lles restaurant, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. CEST.

www.dow-dupont.com

Natick Displays New Lightweight Helmet At Pentagon’s Close Combat Lethality Tech Day

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

The Close Combat Lethality Task Force recently held a Tech Day at the Pentagon. A wide variety of equipment was on hand. U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center researchers displayed a next generation helmet called the ACH Gen II: UHMWPE.

US Army photo by C. Todd Lopez

Essentially, it’s based on the second generation Army Combat Helmet, except that they’ve improved how the ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) used in the helmet is processed during molding. The ACH Gen II already offered a 22% weight reduction over the original ACH but can only stand up to 9mm and Frag threats.

The ACH Gen II: UHMWPE weighs 2.5 pounds for the shell, and an estimated 3.5 pounds final weight, but provides the same level of protection as the Integrated Head Protection System, which has just begun fielding. However, it does so without having to add a ballistic appliqué for rifle rounds like IHPS. Consider that an IHPS weighs about 5 lbs with the appliqué fitted. For a rifle threat-level Helmet, that’s a significant improvement.

Natick continues to develop Helmet technologies with a goal of offering rifle level protection in the weight of current Frag protection (ACH).

US Army Seeks Novel Materials/Components/Designs for an Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Boot

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Although the US Army has made great strides in working with industry to offer a new Jungle Boot, they aren’t resting on their laurels. In fact, they’re already looking to improve the design. In late May, the the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center released a request for information to industry for Novel Materials/Components/Designs for an Improved Hot Weather Army Combat Boot.

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The primary goal of this RFI is to identify footwear vendors capable of manufacturing prototypes. Responses are also requested from footwear component manufacturers whose product may provide one or more of their requested capabilities. Interest is specifically in responses defining component materials, constructions, and/or footwear designs that are optimized for use in a hot weather environment (where temperatures range from 50 to 120°F), with a special interest in materials/designs that reduce footwear weight and increasing comfort.

The linked pdf describes the types of prototypes they are seeking.

Interested parties should visit www.fbo.gov.

Blade Show 18 – Terrain 365

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

Terrain 365 is a collaboration between TAD and PDW founder Patrick Ma Partnered and ABS Master Smith Michael Vagnino, who’ve known one other for about 20 years. Naturally, Terrain 365 concentrates on knives, which is a passion for both of them.

In addition to offering some great designs, Patrick wanted to bring back a non-ferrous material for knives which retains the edge,

is non-ferrous meaning it won’t rust and is non-magnetic. What he had in mind was a revival of cast Cobalt and Carbide. Their alloy is called Terravantium. They don’t roll the material, which crushes the cobalt. Their process retains Dendritic properties of the material.

Initially, Terrain 365 will release four models.

Element Alpha HD

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The HD is for heavy duty. No Rice the thick backstrap.

Element Bravo HD

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PDW Invictus AT

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The AT is for all terrain. This version of the Invictus is made from Ti and Terravantium, making it 100% non-magnetic.

Nautilus HD

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This Dive Knife is available with Orange or Black handles which feature an Epoxy for solid grip when wet.

In addition to these initial designs, bar stock is available for other makers.

terrain365.com

The Lost Arrow Project by Patagonia – Military Alpine Recce System : Pnuemo Fuse and Mixed Range

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

In this final installment of our series on The Lost Arrow Project’s Military Alpine Recce System, I wanted to take a deep dive on two garments. While the entire system was a ground up reboot of environmental clothing systems and packed with innovative concepts, these two jacket and pant combinations exhibit the systems’ departure from the status quo.

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Earlier I referred to MARS as a take out menu and I believe that the Pnuemo Fuse and Mixed Range will be the most popular pieces in MARS, serving as the definition of what Patagonia designer Casey Shaw aspired to when he pondered how to make one garment replace six others.

Pnuemo Fuse

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USSOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform was designed from a seven level template codified by Mark Twight in his book “Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High.” His level five is referred to as an “Action Suit.” Unfortunately, the PCU level 5 garment never seemed to live up to what I saw in my mind’s eye. The material could be hot at times and lacked the comfort level of something that might be worn day-in and day-out.

The Pneumo Air garment in MARS on the other hand fits it to a “T.” I look at it and think comfort. It also makes me think of the clothing on science fiction shows. It’s like what Space Marines will wear in the future, except it’s available now; a great combination of design and materials.

It’s definitely a three-season garment and so long as you’re in a Temperate zone, you could get away with wearing this all year. The fabric is so cozy, I think you’ll want to. I can see operators wearing this all the time while deployed, whether in the field, on the FOB lounging, or conducting PT. In one of the solid colors (Fatigue Green or Forge Grey), they’ll even wear it while off duty at home station as well.

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The material is unique to MARS. It’s a reversed block knit (aka gridded fleece) laminated to Aerolite nylon face fabric which is common across most of the MARS garments. In the chest area on Pneumo Fuse, the two fabrics are used together, but not laminated.

The name of the garment alone tells you what is going on. This material selection offers a high degree of air permeability (40 CFM) which is great while active as the block knit has recesses which traps a layer of boundary air which serves as insulation when static. The lamination also reduces bulk yet doesn’t reduce air permeability or compromise the integrity of fabric.

The uniform also offers a DWR coating and elasticize hem and cuffs. The helmet compatible hood adjusts with a concealed cord to avoid snagging.

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Wherever possible, the seams use ultrasonic welding and are backed with 11mm seam tape. Additionally, they’re reinforced with ForgeLine, an X-stitch pattern developed in Patagonia’s R&D facility, The Forge.

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Across the board, pockets are kept to a minimum with front slash pockets in the pants along with a side patch pocket while the jacket incorporates handwarmer pockets.

Mixed Range

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Like Pneumo Air, Mixed Range is a huge departure from what’s currently available. It’s a hybrid garment which combine hard and soft shells. Granted, these are nothing new, but how The Lost Arrow Project created this garment is a bit different. It’s a combination of their 3-layer waterproof breathable fabric called H2No Air and a treated version of the Aerolite fabric which serves as a highly breathable soft shell.

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In this case, they’ve made the horizontal surfaces waterproof, including elbows, knees and lower legs, while the vertical surfaces are features soft shell fabric including the chest, back, and crotch. In both cases the fabrics offer some stretch.

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An interesting feature across both Mixed Range and Pneumo Fuse is the integrated belt, despite incorporating low profile belt loops for use with life support capable belts when needed. The belt loops are low bulk and don’t create friction points which can rub the wearer. Finally, the gusseted zippered cuffs fit over boots and feature tie-down loops.

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Like the Pneumo Air, the Mixed Range features ultrasonic welding and narrow seam tape along with ForgeLine for reinforcement.

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Once again, pockets remain few, yet functional, like this thigh pocket.

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The pant also incorporates a zippered lower leg to assist with donning and doffing.

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For this, and other garments in MARS, Patagonia developed a Berry compliant Touch Point System cord lock which is embedded in the garment. The helmet-compatible hood cord adjustments are concealed and the excess fits into a drainable garage at the rear of the hood.

Conclusion

Both garments are impressive and I expect will be adopted for use in greater numbers than full kits, as Patagonia rolls out their product options. They offer a great deal of versatility, being useful in a wide variety of climates.

This is the final installment of a four-part series on the Military Alpine Recce System developed by Patagonia’s The Lost Arrow Project. Earlier installments include the history of Patagonia’s SOF support, a system overview and a focus on the production partner, Peckham Vocational Industries. The full system will be on exhibit at SOF Select during SOFIC.

The Lost Arrow Project by Patagonia – Military Alpine Recce System : System Overview

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Yesterday, I discussed Patagonia’s history of supporting SOF with clothing systems. Today, I’ll take a look at how they’ve applied that expertise in design, materials and manufacturing to offer a new concept in protection in extreme environments.

Development

When Patagonia created the original MARS almost 15 years ago, it was called Military Advanced Regulator System because it was based on their Regulator technology. Although Patagonia still produces Regulator fleece garments, many newer materials have come along.

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Even during Patagonia’s work on SOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform program, their military team kept looking at the brand’s commercial garments and fabrics. They spoke of developing “Son of Mars” and finally, about three years ago, they decided the time was right to develop a completely new environmental clothing system, starting completely from scratch.

A couple of factors drove this decision. First, PCU was only making small, evolutionary material and design improvements and second was their mission to innovate. Patagonia is in the business of delivering the best technical outerwear for the most extreme environments and athletes. Guess who operates in the world’s most extreme environments and faces arduous conditions on a daily basis? The SOF Warrior.

They developed a plan: improve performance over the PCU baseline, keep the line tight, and figure out how to reduce risk in production.

According to Eric Neuron, Director of Strategic Product & Military for Patagonia Works, one of the most common critiques of both MARS and PCU is that there are too many garments in the system. MARS Designer Casey Shaw went one step further. He asked himself as he began work on the project, “How do you make one item do the work of six?” One way is materials. The other is design.

Shaw told me that the new Military Alpine Recce System is designed for long duration missions in mountainous environments, but the user won’t wear any more than three layers at a time to get the desired effect. Along with that, it’s important to understand that this is an active insulation system rather than passive. This means that the wearer takes a more active role in pushing moisture out of the clothing. The trick is to manage air permeability. Essentially, the fabrics are treated in different ways to affect how they breath.

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The garments range from .5 – 40 CFM. CFM is a measurement of cubic feet per minute to denote air permeability. To put those numbers into perspective, the Army Combat Uniform is made from a 50/50 Nylon/Cotton blend which is 8 CFM. It’s actually not very breathable at all. For MARS the lower CFM is a waterproof breathable suit, while the higher air perm is a 1.5 oz mechanical stretch knit with Durable Water Repellant treatment. The latter cross layer material offers the “put it on, leave it on” approach which can be used across a wide range of conditions, alone or in concert with other garments.

The team also put some thought into the colors. They are offering two which come from their commercial offerings: Fatigue Green and Forge Grey, which is a dark hue. Neuron explained these will satisfy many organizations’ requirement for civilian clothing for low viz operations. Additionally, he added that they’ll offer MultiCam as well, as it is the SOCOM Standard.

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Starting three years ago, the design concept was launched, and the material developments kicked off with Patagonia’s Materials Innovation Group, a team of chemists and textile PhD’s. Then by providence, about 18 months ago, a SOF customer identified a requirement for a new environmental clothing system. MARS got a kickstart and they quickly produced the requisite number of full kits for the source selection. It went up against the best in the business, but won the solicitation and publicly unveiled MARS during last year’s SOF Select event. Since then, they’ve formalized The Lost Arrow Project to manage the program and worked to bring it into production in order to meet their customer’s deadlines.

Capitalizing on this success, they’ve decided to offer MARS to government customers as well as distributors who service the tactical market.

The System

There are a few similarities between the original system and the new one. For instance, some of the components have the same name as the original items. That’s because over the years they’ve been updated with new materials and still suit the overall purpose of the clothing system.

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The garments range from FR Wool next-to-skin items, windshirts, insulating vest and jackets to waterproof breathable, fully seam taped overgarments. While it was developed as a full system, they don’t consider MARS an all or nothing proposal. They fully expect and encourage users to purchase and use the components best suited to their needs.

Look at it like a takeout menu. You can order the full system or just pick out what fits. Later, you can add on.

The system consists of 20 separate pieces (including balaclava) and features garments for static operations along with the active focused clothing.

MARS Components

Base Layer 1 – Blended US Wool
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Base Layer 2 – Blended US Wool
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Cross Layer 1 – Woven Air Perm Materials
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Cross Layer 2 – Woven Air Perm Materials
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Outerwear 1 – Air Perm Softshell Laminate and Double Weave
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Outerwear 2 – Air Perm Wind Shell and Rain Suit
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Outerwear Static – High Loft Insulation and Hardshell
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How It Works

PCU is a seven level system. It’s based on a mountaineering clothing system described by Mark Twight in his book “Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High.” SOCOM has been using it for a little over 15 years. Even the US Army’s Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System Gen III is a simplified version of PCU. By this point, most users understand the concept of levels rather than layers and can combine different garments based on activity and environmental conditions.

Eric Neuron explained, “Layering works for surviving the elements, and it’s easy to teach and understand, but it’s not conducive for maximizing your working capability.  MARS works just fine as a traditional layering system, but the vision was to create a toolbox of kit, that if you know your own bio-output and the task at hand, you only to need pull out the appropriate tools.  The guys instinctively know this already, and the world’s top alpinist approach clothing this way, our task is simply to make the best tools.”

MARS is a completely fresh look at the challenge. Everyone will have to familiarize themselves with new garments and how to use them, alone, or in concert with one another. Then they’ll have to figure out which they’ll need to use in different scenarios. I’ve spoke with both Neuron and Shaw about this and they are looking at ways to help the user. One concept is an app which helps the user select the right pieces. Another, which was used with PCU, is offering instruction by SMEs.

Saving Time and Money

There’s a business case to be made for both client and vendor every time a new piece of equipment is purchased by the government. The cost of the system is the sum of all of the different elements from the supply chain as well as assembly of the materials into finished goods. As you’ll see, time is also a factor which must be considered. Some materials take longer than others to source.

Generally, an environmental clothing system relies upon multiple different materials which are combined to garner different effects. Each of those materials has its own part of the supply chain. The vendors who make those raw goods each have minimum order quantities (MOQ). Let’s say a system has five different materials. That’s five different MOQs which must be ordered. Each with their own lead times. Those all have to be synchronized so that they are ready for assembly at the same time. It gets even more complicated when clients want it in multiple paint jobs.

Some wonder why companies don’t want to have clothing systems, or other gear for that matter, sitting on the shelf. That’s because once those materials are assembled into a finished good, it costs money to carry on the shelf, hoping someone will buy it. Imagine a company builds a run of clothing and they manufacture a wide range of sizes. Some of those low demand sizes like extra long and extra short versions, may never be purchased. The capital wrapped up in finished goods isn’t recouped until they are sold and could be used elsewhere in a business such as paying for more raw goods to fulfill other orders.

One of the ways Patagonia has been able to lower their MOQs is by utilizing a common face fabric for most of these garments. That means the raw goods offer more versatility because they can be made into many different garments. Patagonia tweaks the fabric’s performance by applying treatments or laminating it to other materials, resulting in a highly efficient material usage across the system.

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With MARS, Patagonia takes a stocking position for raw goods which cuts down on lead times for materials from mills and gives them the flexibility to produce what the customer wants. Granted, it’s not as fast as buying something off the shelf, but it also cuts out the wait for the supply chain to mill fabrics and treat them. Hopefully, it will be a happy medium. Of course, it relies on efficient customer forecasts.

“We believe that for a government contracting business, utilizing a build-to-order uniform business model that allows quick turns and low MOQ will ultimately provide the best value to the customer,” said Neuron, adding, “US manufacturing is expensive, we have worked hard to address that in the business strategy, and with an eye towards automation solutions to produce exceedingly technical domestic products.  I believe this is the key to bolster the US clothing manufacturing base.”

One way to fulfill “we’re leaving tomorrow” requests is to work with distributors willing to take a stocking position on individual components of MARS or entire kits, based on their knowledge of their clients.

But going back to the idea of encouraging customers to buy what they need, minimums have dropped drastically. For instance, what once required a minimum order of 1000 kits has dropped to 200.

Additionally, MARS is completely Berry compliant. They selected materials which could be produced here in the US, yet still provide all of the performance they were looking for. They even went as far as designing a new buckle for the hood of the jacket.

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These are technical garments using advanced materials and construction techniques. The most critical factor in the success of a revitalized MARS line is domestic production. Consequently, Patagonia has not only prepared a supply chain for the materials needed but also invested in their production partner, Peckham Vocational Industries. In doing so, they’ve installed machinery capable of modern construction techniques like sonic welding, as well as provided instruction on how to use them. Patagonia Subject Matter Experts have been on hand at Peckham, showing lead sewers tricks of the trade. This investment is going to allow the military to adopt more modern clothing designs and keeps Peckham competitive, even with overseas factories, which generally benefit from regular infusions of new machinery.

When I spoke with Eric Neuron about it, he said, “We are fortunate to be able to cut through the noise, and focus only on the goal of solving problems and bringing innovation to the guys.  In this case, that means investment of time, money and knowledge transfer to the US supply chain.  And we have the best US partners in place to deliver on that goal.”

Both Patagonia and Peckham have assumed some risk here. So far, they’ve got one customer, but by expanding the program they’ve taken the “build it and they will come” approach. There’s nothing like MARS currently in the market. While there are a lot of great individual pieces, from a variety of manufacturers, no one has taken such a bold move to introduce such an ambitious line all at once in quite some time. Even then, there were significant preorders. They’ll have to educate customers on the system, how to use it and how to purchase it.

This is the second of a four-part series on the Military Alpine Recce System developed by Patagonia’s The Lost Arrow Project. Other installments include an the history of Patagonia’s SOF support, a focus on their production partner Peckham Vocational Industries and a deep dive into some of the components. The full system will be on exhibit at SOF Select during SOFIC.

Arc’teryx LEAF Assault LT Uniform Featuring Gore Katana Fabric

Monday, April 30th, 2018

Arc’teryx LEAF Assault LT Uniform Featuring Gore Katana Fabric

Although we’ve mentioned the Assault LT ensemble by Arc’teryx LEAF a couple of times in the past, many don’t know that it is made with a fabric developed specifically for he military market by WL Gore & Associates, called Katana.

Katana incorporates ePTFE ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) fiber technology and is lightweight, breathable, fast drying and no melt/no drip making it great for use in hot environments. Essentially, the inclusion of ePTFE in the standard 50/50 NYCO, improves the blend. Arc’teryx further tuned the uniform with 520E Tweave and Cyberknit mesh.

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The advantages of Katana are many:
-Low wet pick-up for faster dry time
-Faster dry time with moisture absorption
-High mechanical durability (break & tear strength)
-High strength to weight ratio (weight reduction)
-Low coefficient of friction offers low, wet cling and improved hand
-Tunable with other fiber blends inherent characteristics, like FR

Assault Shirt LT

Features:
-PPE compatible allowing the shirt to be functionally worn with body armour
-Low profile zip neck allowing collar to be worn either open or as a neck protector
-Arm cuff velcro closures allowing for fully enclosed sleeves
-Upper arm zip pockets allowing for convenient pocket accessibility when wearing PPE
-Upper arm IFF Velcro 4×4.5” (w/V-Lite™ retention ring) enhancing the retention of electronic IFF devices
-Daisy chain hard points (in upper arm pockets) allowing for the tying off of mission essential equipment
-Mesh pocket bag liners (upper arm pocketing) allowing for enhanced ventilation and reducing overall apparel weight when the shirt is wet

Assault Pant LT

Features:
-Adjustable waist (c.2”) allowing for waist sizing flexibility
-Enhanced belt loops allowing for the use of the LEAF Rigger’s system
-Retention loops (sewn into waistline) allowing for the tying off of personal items
-Reinforced knees & gusseted crotch allowing for increased durability and enhancing end-user mobility
-Hand pockets (w/internal folding knife pocket) allowing for the secure carriage of a standard folding knife
-Seat pockets allowing for optional/extra storage
-Expandable cargo button pockets capable of providing dump pocket capability
-Draw cord ankle cuff closure (w/vertical retention tunnel for adjustment end) allowing for pants to be worn tightly with boots
-Mesh pocket bag/knee pad insert liners allowing for enhanced ventilation and reducing overall apparel weight when the pant is wet
-Soft knee pad insert capable allowing the end-user an option to insert soft knee pads

Recce Shirt LT

The Recce Shirt LT is made from the same Katana fabric as the other items and features a user removable zipper closure down the front and mesh breathability panels inside the dual chest pockets.

leaf.arcteryx.com

Gore Showcasing Proven-Over-Time Cables, Materials, and Fabrics For Military and Defense Applications

Friday, April 20th, 2018

ELKTON, MD, APRIL 19, 2018 — W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. (Gore) will be exhibiting products from GORE® Cables and Materials and GORE® Military Fabrics at the 2018 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, TN, April 25-27, Booth 2119. For more than 30 years, Gore has provided advanced technical solutions proven to meet the U.S. Military’s complex global challenges, ensuring operational readiness and success every time.

High-Performance Cables & Materials

Gore will be highlighting its full collection of GORE® Cables and Materials for military land systems and aircraft applications. Thoroughly tested and qualified to the most stringent military specifications, they are proven to perform without failure in the harshest conditions for lifetime performance. All of Gore’s rugged solutions are available in a variety of compact, highly flexible and routable designs. Products that will be on display include high data rate cables, high power/signal delivery cables, high-frequency microwave/RF assemblies, and excellent EMI shielding materials.

Also on display will be durable GORE SKYFLEX Aerospace Materials that have been proven to solve many aircraft sealing and surface protection challenges. These lightweight, non-curing tapes and gaskets simplify aircraft assembly, increase throughput, and reduce life-cycle costs.

Next-Gen Fabrics for Ultimate Comfort & Protection

Gore will be featuring best-in-class protective clothing for all branches of the U.S. Military. Fire-resistant innovations include GORE® PYRAD® Fabric Technology which offers enhanced protection by balancing flame resistance, thermal insulation, and thermal stability with comfort. This unique technology self-extinguishes flames so that the fabric does not continue to burn.

Also on display will be Gore’s lightweight Fire-Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) engineered with specialized flame-retardant and antistatic properties that withstand heat and flame threats encountered during combat. FREE EWOL (Extreme Weather Outer Layer) is designed with a Nomex® outer layer; a durably waterproof, windproof and breathable GORE-TEX® membrane; and a Nomex® liner.

For more information about GORE® Cables and Materials and GORE® Military Fabrics, visit Gore at the 2018 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, TN, April, 25-27, in Booth 2119. Additional details can be found at gore.com/AAAA2018.