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Posts Tagged ‘Natick’

US Army Patents New Blast Debris Protective Harness

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

This press release from the Army discusses a new take on the Protective Over Garment or POG program.  The commercial items they issued in the past, would be displaced by the negative pressure wave preceding the blast and frag wave.  Consequently, they weren’t as effective as they could have been.  I’m told this new system is a much closer fit, so it won’t move during a blast.


Engineers and designers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, have patented a blast debris protective harness. The harness is worn outside the pants and hugs the body without hindering movement. (Photo Credit: David Kamm)

Granted, it looks complicated in this photo, but it will make sense once you see it actually being worn in the next photo.

Below is the full Army story.

NATICK, Mass. — Engineers and designers at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have patented a new design for a harness that protects its wearer from blast debris.

Worn outside the pants, the harness is designed to protect the groin and femoral artery and prevent debris from embedding in and around the groin. Such injuries can be so severe that repeated surgeries are often needed to remove the debris, leading to extreme discomfort as well as health and hygiene issues. The harness has also been adapted to provide fragmentation protection.

Project lead Kristine Isherwood said NSRDEC began designing the piece of equipment after a joint urgent operational needs statement was issued for blast debris protection, while the Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment looked for commercial off-the-shelf solutions.

“The protection that existed before was letting debris in because it wasn’t fitted close enough to the body,” said Cara Tuttle, an NSRDEC clothing designer and design lead. “Soldiers weren’t wearing it often enough, and it didn’t come down inside of the leg to protect the femoral artery.”

Before arriving at the harness design, NSRDEC considered several others, including under-trouser, within-trouser, and over-trouser designs. The ultimate design for the harness uses multiple layers of Kevlar that alternate as they overlap.

“A layer overlaps in one direction, then the next layer overlaps in the opposite direction, and it keeps alternating,” Tuttle said. “This creates a better barrier for small [debris fragments], which would have to zig zag through all these layers to get through.”

The resulting design hugs the body without hindering movement or range of motion. Project engineers partnered with NSRDEC’s Human Factors and Anthropology teams to achieve the snug fit. The design makes use of adjustable straps and buckles that allow for easy doffing and donning.

“It was challenging to add layers and area of coverage without impacting movement,” said Isherwood. “Whether you had to climb in a window or kneel, [the harness] needed to stay in place, but also allow full range of motion. The uniqueness of this design is that it’s stable but moves with you.”

Tuttle, who worked in the apparel industry for a number of years before coming to Natick, and Isherwood say they are dedicated to improving the quality of life and safety of the warfighter.

“There is nothing in the [apparel] industry quite like what we do here at Natick,” Tuttle said. “We are helping to protect the men and women who are protecting our country. Our work … has the potential to save lives.”

“[Our Soldiers] are volunteering to be put in harm’s way,” Isherwood said. “So anything I can do to protect them without compromising their effectiveness is the goal. That’s what we are trying to do every day.”

As with many protective items developed by NSRDEC, the innovation is expected to benefit the not just the warfighter, but also may, in the future, be licensed for use by first responders.

US Army Develops Wool-Centric FR Fabric

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Last week, the US Army released a story about a new FR fabric they’ve developed. This is great news. I love to see new materials developed. I also share Army Textile Technologist Carole Winterhalter’s and others’ enthusiasm for the reintroduction of wool into US military uniforms. There are only good things to say about wool, particularly the wool sourced from Rambouillet sheep, which rivals New Zealand’s famed Merino wool. I think it’s going to happen eventually, as well. However, there are a couple of things I want to point out about the article.

First off, the article states that the goal of the development of this new fabric blend is to create a flame-resistant combat uniform made wholly from domestic material, but that’s already been done, by multiple vendors. Although, US Army and Marine Corps FR combat uniforms are made of Tencate’s Defender M, which is milled from a blend of materials that incorporates Austrian Lenzig FR Rayon fibers, a fiber requiring a Berry waiver, there are many domestic FR fabrics. Rather, the goal here, seems to be to figure out ways to use wool, and in particular, wool blends.

Additionally, the US herd of sheep is currently insufficient to support a major DoD procurement. Currently, SOF is way out front of the services on this, and the industry is working hard to support their limited requirements while continuing to sustain its existing commercial business.

Finally, the article seems to overstate the Army’s role in the introduction of our domestic Superwash facility. To be sure, they supported the effort, but it has not sat fallow, awaiting an Army requirement. To the contrary; it is a fully viable commercial entity, currently supporting such brands as Duckworth, Farm to Feet, Point6, XGO and others.

Having said all of that, I urge them to keep up the good work. Wool is awesome and it’s unfortunate the domestic wool industry is currently so limited. Show the ranchers there’s a viable requirement, and they’ll grow to meet it.


Photo: Pvt. Antwan Williams, an Infantryman serving as a Human Research Volunteer Soldier at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, models a prototype uniform developed by NSRDEC’s textile technologists. He is also wearing a MOLLE Medium Pack System and a conceptual load carriage vest system called the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel that is designed specifically for Airborne operations but will also be evaluated for non-Airborne operations, including jungle environments. (Photo Credit: Jeff Sisto, NSRDEC Public Affairs)

Some of you are going to ask about the chest rig in the photo, called the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel. Yes, that’s Tubes which FirstSpear provided to the Army Experimental Load Carrying Facility. I’ve seen prototypes of this design going back several years and Tubes makes a great, low profile, front closure. Hopefully, we’ll see this adopted.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army researchers who are developing a wool-based fabric blend are aiming to improve combat uniforms while also boosting U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The Army has developed a fabric composed of 50 percent wool, 42 percent Nomex, 5 percent Kevlar and 3 percent P140 antistatic fiber. The goal is to create a flame-resistant combat uniform made wholly from domestic materials, said Carole Winterhalter, a textile technologist with the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

“We have a lightweight fabric that is inherently flame resistant. No topical treatments are added to provide [flame resistance],” Winterhalter said. “We are introducing a very environmentally friendly and sustainable fiber to the combat uniform system.

To test prototype uniforms made with the fabric, three Army researchers traveled to Germany in August for Exercise Combined Resolve VII, where they worked with about 100 Soldiers. The exercise drew about 3,500 participants from NATO allies to the region.

There, the researchers joined John Riedener, the field assistance in science and technology advisor assigned to 7th Army Training Command. FAST advisors are a component of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

“We were in the heat of summer here, and it was very warm during the exercise,” Riedener remembered. “The uniforms were lighter weight and breathed better. Soldiers were very happy with the material.”

Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division participated in the 21-day testing and completed surveys before and after the exercise, said Brian Scott, NSRDEC equipment specialist, Soldier and Squad Optimization and Integration Team. The R&D team selected Hohenfels, Germany, because the evaluation of a fire-resistant wool undergarment also took place there. 

During testing, each Soldier received three prototype uniforms. Each was made from the same wool-based blend. One was “garment treated” with permethrin, an insecticide, and another was “fabric treated” with permethrin. The third was untreated. 

The Soldiers, who came from a variety of military occupational specialties, wore each of the three uniforms for about seven days in a field environment for a total of 21 days. The testing and survey instructions asked Soldiers not to compare the prototypes with existing uniforms or camouflage patterns.

Their feedback regarding comfort, durability, laundering and shrinkage, insect resistance, and overall performance will help determine whether researchers will continue the development effort, Winterhalter said.

Initial results suggest the majority of the Soldiers liked the fabric because it was lightweight and breathable; however, analysis of the survey data has yet to be completed, said Shalli Sherman, NSRDEC program manager for the Office of Synchronization and Integration.

Winterhalter is optimistic about the prospect of a wool blend being incorporated into combat uniforms because of its environmental, manufacturing and economic benefits. She said the United States has about 80,000 wool growers, and the Army would like to include the material in the clothing system.

“Wool is 100 percent biodegradable. It’s easy to dye and absorbs moisture,” said Winterhalter, who also serves as the federal government’s chief technology officer for the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

“The Army has spent quite a bit of time and money to reintroduce a manufacturing process in this country called Super Wash that allows us to shrink-resist treat the wool. … When blended with other fibers, the fabric does not shrink excessively when washed.”

The new Super Wash process makes wool viable for combat clothing in nearly any application, including jackets, pants, underwear, headwear, gloves and socks, Winterhalter said.

NSRDEC researchers are planning for a larger field study with more users over a longer time period of time, possibly 30 days. More data on comfort and durability will be needed for the Army to move forward, Winterhalter said.

Just Hanging Around

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

  

Noncommissioned officers help Natick’s Aerial Delivery Directorate researchers test the RA-1 parachute’s harness for comfort and fit in cold conditions created in the Doriot Climactic Chambers. Brrrrrr!

Congressional Staffers Visit Natick Soldier Systems Center

Friday, November 13th, 2015

A Congressional staff delegation consisting of Professional Staff Members from the House and Senate Armed Services`1qw Committees visited key DoD research & development facilities in the Boston area this week. Among other stops, the staff spent time at the Natick Soldier Systems Center where they were briefed on the base’s cutting-edge R&D work. Natick Soldier Systems Center is a crucial part of the development process for warfighter gear and equipment, with groundbreaking work on individual items ranging from combat helmets and soldier electronics to combat feeding and shelter systems.
The base itself consists of four key units including, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine, Program Manager Field Sustainment, and the Integrated Logistics Support Center….. it truly is “all about the solider.” And as one of the main industry liaisons, the base serves as an integral player in the DoD’s R&D efforts on improving gear and equipment for the end-user. Natick Soldier Systems Center maintains capabilities and technologies that are one of a kind, such as the Doriot Climatic Chambers, which was recently upgraded in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The base’s location also provides a unique ability to bring some of the nation’s greatest minds due to its proximity to some of the nation’s greatest research institutions such as Harvard University, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts system.

Field Gourmet – Operational Rations of the Department of Defense

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Everything you wanted to know about DoD’s operational ration program, including menus,  is available in this manual produced by Natick.

 

(Click cover to open PDF)

Army Gear Testing at Natick Laboratories: “Meeting the Need”

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

This video from 1968 showcases some of the Viet Nam War-era development conducted at Natick such as the LRRP ration and LINCLOE programs.

Thanks Egg!

Pack Man

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

I’ve heard Natick’s Rich Landry called quite a few things over the years but never “Pack Man.”

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A former Pathfinder in the 82nd, Landry actually completed Jumpmaster school as a civilian on jump status at Natick. He’s dedicated his life to supporting the troops and chances are good that if you’ve served over the past 30 years, you’ve used a piece of GI load carriage equipment that Landry has either designed outright or helped develop.

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The new MOLLE 4000 is the cover story for ‘NSSC This Month’. Check it out at usarmy.vo.llnwd.net.

US Army Developing Parachutist Rucksack

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Meet the MOLLE 4000. Developed by Natick Soldier Systems Center to satisfy a requirement for an airborne rucksack for the 82nd Airborne Division, it enters safety certification next month. Lead developer Rich Landry is a Veteran of the 82nd and has been instrumental in work on several airborne items over the years.

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To create the MOLLE 4000, Landry combined the short MOLLE frame adopted by the Marine Corps but originally developed for Army paratroopers and created a new 4000 cu in bag for it. He also envisioned a new, removable single point release. This was the critical piece. Until now, you either rigged your pack with the Harness, Single Point Release, which is a separate item, prone to loss after a jump or you carried a pack with sewn-in air items. The latter option results in increased cost per pack and you are stuck lugging around the extra weigh whether you are jumping or not. Additionally, such specialty packs aren’t appropriate for issue to other forces due to that additional cost and weight. Instead, Landry has come up with a hybrid solution which quickly attaches and detaches from the pack. This saves both rigging time and weight, once he gets on the ground, for the paratrooper.

Bob Reinert of the Natick Public Affairs Office wrote a great story on the project. It’s definitely worth a read. www.army.mil/article/141297.