Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

The Desert Tech Next Generation Squad Weapons Prototypes

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

The US Army is currently well into an ambitious program to replace the 5.56mm NATO M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with new weapons in a 6.8mm cartridge which will offer performance similar to 270 WSM.

Since they weren’t selected for as a finalist for further development, many do not know that Desert Tech participated in the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program. Teamed with PCP Ammunition, Desert Tech provided the weapon capability.

We are fortunate to share some great background from Desert Tech on their participation in this developmental weapon system program.

Nick Young, Desert Tech CEO, seen above with Tony Padgett of PCP Ammo, provides us with this narrative:

In the Spring of 2018 PCP was selected as a NGSAR finalist and approached Desert Tech to develop modifications to their MDR to meet the requirements of Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) program. NGSAR was a development program that called for advancements in ammunition, rifle capability, and technology integration. The program’s goals were to increase soldier engagement capabilities, maximize lethality, and maximize mobility.

Desert Tech’s MDR rifle was an attractive candidate for the program due to its lightweight bullpup design that allowed for significantly more barrel length than a similar length AR style weapon, as well as several features that set the MDR apart from other bullpups.

Desert Tech partnered with PCP for the NGSAR program, and the US Army awarded a development contract to the team to create the DT NGSAR rifle and the 6.8 PCP lightweight ammunition.

The 6.8 PCP cartridge incorporates a 136 Grain projectile which boasts up to 3187 FPS from a 22″ barrel prototype.

The 6.8 PCP cartridge is similar in size and proportion to the .270 WSM, but with more case capacity. The new cartridge utilizes PCP’s proprietary polymer case technology, making the ammunition 28% lighter overall than its brass equivalent, which made the soldiers’ 210 round ammo loadout weight just 9.96 LBS. DT’s NGSAR rifles muzzle easily achieved velocities of 2930 fps and 3187 fps without exceeding standard chamber pressures when firing 136 grain projectiles through the long 20” and 22” barrels respectively.

Although the DT NGSAR rifles’ lower receiver and cheekpiece look similar to the MDR rifle, the NGSAR is an entirely new beast. To accommodate the large 6.8 PCP cartridge, intelligent rail requirements, and fully automatic needs, a new design was needed, including: creating a longer receiver, bolt carrier, barrel, barrel extension, charging handle, forward ejection mechanisms, barrel mounting system, and a proprietary 6.8 20 round magazine. DT’s NGSAR rifle had numerous advanced and standard features including;
-DT’s proprietary forward ejection mechanism
-Multi-caliber capability between 6.8 PCP, 7.62 NATO, and 5.56 NATO
-On-board round-counter and other electronic sensors
-T-Worx Battery Powered integrated data rails at 12, 3, 6, and 9 O’clock positions
-DT custom flow-through technology reflex suppressor
-CNOD day/night optic with LRF fire control
-Magpul 45 deg offset flip up sights
-Magpul Bipod

The base rifle weight with 20” barrel weighs 9.94 lbs with a length of 31.75” (for comparison, the M4 rifle is 33” with stock extended). DT’s titanium reflex silencer suppressed to 148 decibels at the shooters ear. The rifle is definitely state of the art and designed for future combat in mind.

As part of the NGSW program, the team submitted two weapons, a Carbine and Automatic Rifle.

During the development of the NGSAR rifle, PCP and Desert Tech went on to compete together for the NGSW development effort, but unfortunately were not selected due to the proposal timing that did not allow for adequate prototype testing prior submission. Had the original Army schedule been followed which allowed for the completion of NGSAR prior to the NGSW proposal submission, the system would likely have been selected. The revolutionary weapon and ammunition system was a leading performer and provided a glimpse at the future of modern warfare.

DT NGSAR Rifle System Specifications:
Caliber: 6.8 PCP
Action: Short stroke piston
Fire Modes: 0, 1, Full Auto
Rate of Fire: 650 rpm
Capacity: 20 rounds
Barrel Length: 20”
Muzzle Velocity: 2933 fps
Rifle Length: 31.75”
Rifle Length with silencer: 35.125”
Rifle weight: 9.94 lbs
Suppressed sound: 148 DB
Sight Magnification: 2x, 4x, 6x
Total System Weight: 12.65 lbs
Ammo Loadout Weight (210 rds): 9.96

Here is a demonstration of the DT Next Gen weapon.

This video is a record of the chonograph readings taken of the 6.8 PCP round beibg fired from the DT weapon.

LIFT Aviation Awarded Development Contract by USAF for Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

LIFT Aviation is one of several companies awarded developmental Other Transaction Authority Agreements with the US Air Force to develop a Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet, which was originally an AFWERX project.

This project is moving along quickly as you can see from the quad chart. LIFT Aviation is well known for their commercial AV-1 KOR helmet.

You can definitely see the DNA in their NGFWH candidate.

LIFT Aviation had this to say…

“We are honored to have been selected by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to be involved with this program. Innovation is something that has been lacking in the fixed wing helmet that the U.S. Air Force has implemented for the past number of decades and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the USAF and DoD to continue to develop the next generation fixed wing flight helmet. The approach taken with our first flight helmet was to have it be modern, innovative and above all, safe. We can’t wait to bring that same approach while developing this next generation fixed wing helmet to provide our airmen and warfighters the best in flight helmet technology.” states Guido Rietdyk, President and CEO of LIFT Aviation. “The technological advances that we developed in our other businesses in personal safety products in the orthopedic and extreme sports industries under our EVS Sports brand, and in the industrial safety industry with our LIFT Safety brand, in addition to our LIFT Aviation flight focused brand, all have greatly contributed to us being able to draw innovation from a variety of applications and come up with state of the art technology in the cockpit, now working to make our USAF air crews equipped just as well as their air craft are.”

USAF Awards OTA Agreement to Gentex Corporation for Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet System

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Carbondale, PA, February 26, 2020 – Gentex Corporation, a global leader in personal protection and situational awareness solutions for defense forces, aircrew, emergency responders, and industrial personnel, announced today that it was awarded an OTA Agreement by the United States Air Force for its NGFWH System, following a global-scale competition.

The United States Air Force challenged individuals and businesses from across the world to submit a NGFWH prototype, focusing on addressing shortfalls in previous helmet models, including stability, equipment compatibility, and mass properties. After being tested by USAF pilots and maintainers, the Gentex NGFWH System prototype, created by Gentex’s international team of designers and engineers, was awarded an OTA Agreement for further development and testing.  

The Gentex NGFWH System fully integrates the latest Gentex advancements and innovation in all facets of helmet system design and integration, including the helmet system itself, optics, hearing protection, communications and situational awareness, respiratory protection integration and helmet mounted device integration. The NGFWH System will provide a higher level of protection and operational capability for current and future Aircrew.

“We’re honored to be awarded this contract,” said Robert McCay, vice president of aircrew systems at Gentex Corporation, “It’s a testament to Gentex’s generations-long history of leading-edge technological advancement and innovation.”

This research for this OTA was, in part, funded by the U.S. Government.  The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Government.

Army Scientists Develop Cutting-Edge, Durable 3D Printing Technology

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army scientists are on the brink of a pioneering additive-manufacturing technology to help Soldiers quickly swap out broken plastic components with durable 3D printed replacements, says a top Army researcher.

In the past, troops have either lugged replacement parts around or ordered them from warehouses thousands of miles away, only to wait weeks for them to arrive.

But with dual-polymer 3D printed parts — developed by scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, or ARL — Soldiers could be a few clicks away from swapping out broken pieces and heading back to the fight within hours.

“We’re crossing a threshold where low-cost, easy-to-operate and maintain printers will be proliferated on the battlefield — and able to produce engineering parts of very good quality with short turn-around times,” said Dr. Eric Wetzel, ARL’s research arealeader for Soldier materials.

“In order to do that, we need printing technologies that can print parts that are accurate geometrically and have mechanical properties that are sufficiently robust to survive conditions in battle,” he added.

The printing technology comes on the heels of Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy pushing an advanced manufacturing policy last October, intended to enhance supply chains in the field.

Until this point, 3D printing technologies that produce mechanically robust parts have required printers and print technologies that are not suitable for austere environments, while the printers suitable for austere environments produced poor-quality parts, Wetzel said.

That’s where the ARL scientists come in. For the last few years, they have delved into this issue, Wetzel said. For the first time, ARL scientists have developed a cutting-edge filament capable of being used in off-the-shelf, low-cost 3D printers to produce mechanically strong, battlefield-ready parts.

“By summer, we hope to have samples of the filament distributed to Army transition partners,” Wetzel added. Based on their feedback, ARL could ramp up production — with help from industry partners — and have it in the hands of Soldiers within the calendar year.


“Conventional polymer filaments for 3D printing are made up of a single polymer,” Wetzel said. “Our innovation is that we’ve combined two different polymers into a single filament, providing a unique combination of characteristics useful for printing and building strength.”

The dual-polymer filament combines acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, with polycarbonate, or PC. A critical design feature of the filament is that the ABS and PC phases are not simply mixed together, a common approach for creating blended polymers. Instead, a special die-less thermal drawing process developed by ARL is used to create an ABS filament with a star-shaped PC core. Once coupled, the filament is used as feedstock in a desktop fused-filament fabrication, or FFF, printer to create 3D prints with a heavy-duty ABS/PC meso?structure.

FFF printers work with a heated nozzle that emits thin layers of melted plastic, similar to molten glass. The filament is deposited onto a print bed, one layer on top of another until it forms the 3D printed part. In order to fabricate a unique part, the nozzle, print bed, or both move while the hot plastic streams down.

The two polymers found in the new filament technology have distinct melting temperatures, Wetzel said.

After the solid bodies are initially printed, they are put in an oven to build strength. During this annealing process, the deposited material layers fuse together while maintaining their geometry and form. This stability is caused by the higher temperature resistance of the built-in framework.

“The second polymer holds the shape like a skeleton while the rest of it is melting and bonding together,” Wetzel said. “Through a series of filament design trials, we were able to identify that the star-shaped PC core provided a superior combination of part toughness and stability compared to other arrangements of ABS and PC in the filament.”

Current filaments — traditionally consisting of a single thermoplastic — produce parts that are brittle and weak, and would deform excessively during the annealing process, he said.

“We focused in on what can we do to improve those mechanical properties,” he added. “We wrote a series of papers getting very fundamentally down to the details of exactly why conventional single-polymer parts are not sufficient, what’s happening in the physics of the polymer — really at a molecular level — that prevents conventional printed polymer parts from meeting these requirements.”

The legacy thermoplastic deposits like a hot glue gun, he said. As the layers build, they don’t stick very well to the previous layer because by the time the second layer adds, the first one is cooled off.

“So, you’re not melting the layers together, you’re just solidifying material on top of one another, and they never really bond between layers,” Wetzel said. “Our technology is an approach that allows us to use these conventional desktop printers, but then apply post-processing to dramatically improve the toughness and strength between layers.”

“Manufacturing at the point-of-need provides some exciting possibilities,” Wetzel said. “In the future we can imagine Soldiers deployed overseas collaborating with engineers in the United States, allowing new hardware concepts to be designed and then sent as digital files to be coverted into physical prototypes that the Soldiers can use the same day. This paradigm shift could allow us to innovate at a much higher speed, and be keenly responsive to the ever-changing battlefield.”

Story by Thomas Brading, Army News Service

Photos by EJ Hersom

The 3rd Alternative Team Just Announced Revolutionary Service in Tactical Apparel & Gear Sector

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

“DESIGN YOUR OWN” service has arrived!

Visit and make your dreams come true.

It all started in 1997 when Igors Sitvjenkins joined the Army. He started with designing an innovative layering system for his fellow soldiers. After 15 years as an officer, having worked with NATO groups and cooperated with top military brands from soldier systems sector, he decided to start his own business and look into the design in a more scientific way.

The mix of scientific thinking, military experience and passion resulted in a book called BOOS – “Book of operational sculpturing”, where Igors team established system requirements for all the products they developed. The book became the base for identification and understanding of customer requirements – a unique and innovative approach towards satisfying the customer with most adequate product choices. BOOS also includes details behind the creation of the new multiterrain camouflage pattern called TripleX and has become the base for all products designed and sold by Igors and his partners’ new brand, 3rd Alternative

This year The 3rd Alternative Team announced revolutionary service in tactical apparel & gear sector – “DESIGN YOUR OWN” .Visit and make your dreams come true.

From now on with 3rd Alternative team all Your design wishes, features, elements can be implemented into Your tactical wear/ gear. Free Yourself! You have the alternative and basis to design what You want!

You will design Your product having strong technical background of 3rd Alternative Team and best fabrics available in tactical sector – Cordura® and Polartec®. The team of designer and constructor will make sure Your input stream through the process of creation with the result in product of YOUR DREAMS!

New Algorithm Could Mean More Efficient, Accurate Equipment For Army

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (Dec. 19, 2019) –  Researchers working on an Army-funded project have developed an algorithm to simulate how electromagnetic waves interact with materials in devices to create equipment more efficiently and accurately. The algorithm could be used in a wide range of fields – from biology and astronomy to military applications and telecommunications.


Electromagnetic waves exist as radiation of energies from charges and other quantum processes. They include radio waves, microwaves, light and X-rays. Mobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves.


It takes a tremendous amount of computer simulations to create a device like an MRI scanner that images the brain by detecting electromagnetic waves propagating through tissue. Those simulations can take days or months to identify how the electromagnetic waves will react when they encounter the materials in the device. Because of the cost, there is a limit to the number of simulations typically done for these devices.


With funding from the Army Research Office, in a study, published in the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, SMU (Southern Methodist University) researchers revealed a faster algorithm for these simulations. It is a more efficient and less expensive way to predict the behavior of waves.


“We can reduce the simulation time from one month, to maybe one hour,” said lead researcher Wei Cai, SMU Clements Chair of applied mathematics. “We have made a breakthrough in these algorithms.”


“Electromagnetic waves are central to many important applications in sensing, power, and communication. Being able to conduct related simulations faster and less expensively will have many military applications,” said Dr. Joseph Myers, Army Research Office Mathematical Sciences Division chief. ARL is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. “For example, this work will help create a virtual laboratory for scientists to simulate and explore quantum dot solar cells, which could produce extremely small, efficient and lightweight solar military equipment.”


The new algorithm modifies a mathematical method called the fast multipole method, or FMM, which was considered one of the top 10 algorithms in the 20th century.


Using this new algorithm, the computer simulations map out how materials in a device like semiconductor materials will interact with light, in turn giving a sense of what a particular wave will do when it comes in contact with that device.


An engineer or mathematician would be able to use this new algorithm to test a device whose job is to pick out a certain electromagnetic wave. For instance, it could be used to test designs for a solar light battery that lasts longer and is smaller than currently exists.


“To design a battery that is small in size, you need to optimize the material so that you can get the maximum conversion rate from the light energy to electricity,” Cai said. “An engineer could find that maximum conversion rate by going through simulations faster with this algorithm.”


The algorithm could also help an engineer design a seismic monitor to predict earthquakes by tracking elastic waves in the earth, Cai noted.


“These are all waves, and our method applies for different kinds of waves,” he said. “There are a wide range of applications with what we have developed.”


The computational system used for this project, the SMU MANEFRAME II, is descended from the Army high-performance computing system “Mana,” formerly located at the Maui HPC Center in Hawaii, and donated and physically moved to SMU through the efforts of ARO and SMU.

By US Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Advanced Manufacturing Techniques Set To Cut Costs, Timelines For US Army

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army’s advanced manufacturing push intends to cut production timelines and costs throughout the lifecycle of systems, said an Army acquisition officer.

“Can you imagine how great it would be if we could just not have any parts in the logistics system, only raw materials, and we would just print the part at the point of need, right?” asked Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, and Communications – Tactical, or C3T, during a panel discussion Wednesday.

That vision has become synonymous with advanced manufacturing, he said during the Association of the U.S. Army’s “Hot Topic” forum on Acquisition and Contracting.

Advanced manufacturing forges innovative technologies to “create new, or improved products or processes,” said Paul Mehney, C3T public communications director.

One technique, additive manufacturing, incorporates 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence and composite materials. But according to Bassett, that’s just a fraction of what the new push entails.

Over the last several months, C3T project managers have partnered up with the members of the Army’s Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center — known as the C5ISR — at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and applied 3D printing techniques for network integration efforts.

At the proving ground, they have been prototyping radio, gateway and server racks, and mounting brackets on lightweight military vehicles to support network enhancement efforts of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

“The use of 3D printing enables developers to experiment with form/fit/function of different mounting systems and also allows developers and integrators to quickly incorporate Soldier feedback,” Mehney said.

To enable network connectivity for the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, developers are prototyping an integrated network enhancement kit called the Bloodhound, Mehney said.

Bloodhound is a network communications gateway and data management kit currently integrated onto light vehicles — but it is platform agnostic, he said, meaning it runs equally well on more than one platform.

During recent IVAS Soldier Touchpoint experimentation, infantry Soldiers and Marines provided feedback on the location of network systems on the Bloodhound, and made suggestions to improve form and fit of integrated network components.

“Future IVAS network capabilities may include data synchronization over narrow band SATCOM [Satellite Communications] with up to 75% reduction in component payload size, which will allow for network kit integration into combat and tactical vehicle platforms,” Mehney said.

IVAS network capability integration on the Stryker and Bradley platforms are both already in motion.

“3D manufacturing techniques will allow additional prototypes to be made as more Soldier feedback in development and operations is received, and as additional vehicle platforms are identified for network kit integration,” Mehney said.

Last month, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, in partnership with the University of Maine, procured the world’s largest 3D printer, to further bolster collaboration with industry leaders.

The printer will enable the rapid creation of large products for the Soldier, said Professor Habib Joseph Dagher, Advanced Structures and Composites Center executive director at the college.

Once a design configuration is locked, design plans developed out of advanced manufacturing techniques will be handed to industry for production.

Although the Army fostering of advanced manufacturing methods and materials are in its early stages, the service’s industrial base “must rapidly innovate to keep pace with industry and adversaries exploiting” their own advanced methods and materials, according to an Army statement.

But digital engineering is only the start, Bassett said. “Techniques [with advanced manufacturing] are now available to us that should aid in efficiency, and allow us to build things we never could have envisioned.”

In other words, 3D printing is only a part of advanced manufacturing and it “looks across the entire lifecycle of the system, starting with design, manufacturing and sustainment,” Bassett said.

“If you start to build a system this way,” he said, “when you get to sustainment, you should be able to identify what parts you can manufacture in different ways.”

The Army’s new manufacturing policy is made up of three elements: strategic investment, systematic adoption, and deliberate and thoughtful use, said Brian Raftery, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategy and acquisition.

Strategic investment must “develop a holistic, threat-based strategy for the investment in and use of advanced methods and materials” and open the door for outside partnership with industry leaders, he added.

The second principle integrates advanced manufacturing technology upfront, and throughout the system’s lifecycle, Raftery said.

And lastly, advanced manufacturing will be deliberate and used thoughtfully, he said. This means it will keep in mind aspects of things like return on investment and intellectual property implications.

Story by Thomas Brading

First photo by SSG Armando R. Limon

Soldier Center, Harvard Collaborate to Advance Soldier Technologies

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

NATICK, Mass. — The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center is working with Harvard University to research a wide range of technologies to enhance Soldier protection and performance. Soldier knowledge and input are playing a key role in the partnership.

“The collaboration between the CCDC Soldier Center and Harvard University will help identify and address capability gaps to better meet the needs of Soldiers and will help to get new critical capabilities into the hands of our Soldiers more quickly,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of the CCDC Soldier Center. “Research will also benefit immensely from the ingenuity of both organizations and from the added insight made possible by the involvement of former and current Soldiers throughout the research, development, engineering and testing process.”

The CCDC Soldier Center is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army’s Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance.

The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

Some of the research being performed by Harvard and CCDC SC comes under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, between CCDC SC and Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or Harvard SEAS.

“The Master CRADA will provide a streamlined way for the organizations to collaborate in diverse areas of mutual interest and leverage each other’s expertise,” said Sheri Mennillo, CCDC SC’s technology transfer manager who helped develop the Master CRADA between Harvard and CCDC SC.

Dr. Kevin “Kit” Parker is the technical point of contact for Harvard for the CRADA. Parker is the Tarr

Family Professor of the Bioengineering and Applied Physics Disease Biophysics Group, Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering, at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Parker, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, is also a professor in the department of Chemical and Life Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Parker and other scientists in his lab are working closely with the Soldier Center.

“Collaboration with academia is a critical means by which we at Soldier Center can ensure that we can provide truly innovative ways to increase Soldier lethality,” said Dr. Richard Green, director of the Soldier Protection and Survivability Directorate at the CCDC Soldier Center. “The Soldier Center is located near some of the premier academic research institutions in the world, and we regularly engage with local universities and universities that are farther away to help enable solutions that may not have been thought possible in the past. Through collaborations, such as our collaboration with Kit Parker’s lab at Harvard, we learn more about the art of the possible, and academia gets a better understanding of challenges the Army faces as we work to modernize for the future fight.”

“Academic collaborations, especially those with distinguished local universities such as Harvard, provide CCDC SC the opportunity to leverage cutting-edge expertise and facilities to augment our own R&D capabilities,” said Dr. Kathleen Swana, a researcher at CCDC SC. “CCDC SC, in return, provides valuable scientific and Soldier-centric expertise and testing capabilities to help drive the research forward. Dr. Kit Parker’s experience and technical prowess also provide a unique perspective on potential science and technology solutions for the Soldier, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of future collaborations with his lab.”

The spark for the initial idea for the partnership came about when Parker and Brian Wood, the G-8 budget officer at CCDC SC and formerly a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, were attending a Pacific Operational Science and Technology meeting. Parker and Wood realized the many potential benefits of CCDC SC working with Harvard to advance technologies for the Soldier. Both men served in the same unit in the U.S. Army Reserve Sustainment Command Detachment 8.

One of the projects that CCDC SC and Harvard University are working on together is the development and testing of ballistic protection nanofibers, which have the potential to be used to create lighter body armor.

Grant Gonzalez, one of Parker’s PhD students, invented the nanofibers.

“We are reimagining Kevlar fibers, attempting to make them stronger and tougher, by decreasing their diameter to change how the polymer inherently organizes and crystalizes,” said Gonzalez. “These fibers will decrease the weight the warfighter carriers without sacrificing protection.”

The Harvard inventor needed CCDC SC’s ballistics and testing expertise. Gonzalez, who has been the primary liaison between Parker’s laboratory and CCDC SC, has now graduated and is the first PhD student to be jointly mentored by people at CCDC SC and Harvard.

“The capabilities of the CCDC SC allow us to quantify the successes of our fibers from the perspective and needs of the warfighter,” said Gonzalez.

In addition to ballistic protection, Parker noted that the Kevlar nanofibers invented by Gonzalez have other potential uses.

“We’re working with Natick’s boot lab to test Kevlar nanofibers on the bottom of combat boots and doing abrasion testing,” said Parker. “When working with the Kevlar and ballistics, we realized that there were some unique abrasive properties, helping Soldiers better navigate lava rock and terra firma. The Kevlar nanofibers also have flame-retardant properties. So, if you are an armored crew member or if you are on an aircraft, in both situations, you may need to worry about an onboard fire. The idea is that we may be able to put Kevlar nanofibers into your flight suit or crewmember suit to give you more flame retardancy.”

Gonzalez explained that the fibers may also have applications for emergency responders, police, and firemen.

“These fibers have potential applications in ballistic protection for police and puncture-resistant materials for emergency responders and firefighters,” said Gonzalez.

Former and current Soldiers are involved throughout research, development and testing process, providing all-important insight into identifying capability gaps to meet the needs of the warfighter.

“Army Reserve Soldiers bring a critical combination of expertise to the table — civilian education and professional experience coupled with military experience and associated professional relationships from both sides,” said Wood. “Having current and former Soldiers involved in S&T brings expertise, experience and the passion to follow the effort to completion. Further, these Soldiers may personally benefit from the S&T developments and new capabilities in an operational environment. Through Soldiers’ knowledge and operational experience, they bring critical insight as to what is needed and if/how the new equipment will be used.”

Parker served several combat tours in Afghanistan and has first-hand knowledge of issues and capability gaps faced by Soldiers on the battlefield. Parker’s lab at Harvard includes many military veterans, including veterans who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as tours in Africa and the Philippines.

“So these are folks with first-hand battlefield experience,” said Parker. “This is unprecedented. There are multiple layers of expert input going into the science.”

West Point cadets also participate in Parker’s lab at Harvard. CCDC SC works collaboratively with West Point cadets as well.

“I want cadets to understand the role of science and technology in providing for the force,” said Parker. “It’s important to get users involved in design processes very early on. In addition to Soldier research, the idea is that we are training tech-savvy leaders for the next generation of Army combat leaders, and we are training the next generation of civilian scientists and engineers to support national security.”

Parker pointed out that there is great potential for Soldiers to work in labs after uniformed service. He noted that this experience builds on, and exploits, their value to the nation and supports the model of Soldier for Life.

“I have a bunch of military veterans, including Army, working in my lab,” said Parker. “Taking these junior enlisted and junior NCOs and bringing their subject matter expertise, technical knowledge, and applications orientation to the basic science lab is extremely unusual and points to what I call ‘Soldier innovation.’ Junior enlisted and NCO corps expertise are one of the greatest untapped resources that our defense research complex needs to access.”

Parker said he greatly admires the brain power available at CCDC SC. He is eager to expand his research ties throughout CCDC SC and is eager to establish a working relationship with the Combat Feeding Directorate in particular.

“Soldiers have unique dietary needs,” said Parker. “I think people don’t realize that when you sit down to eat an MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), that’s a scientific and technology parade.”

Both Wood and Parker are dedicated to serving the Soldier and believe the CRADA will lead to even more collaborative efforts in the future.

“Since the CRADA reaches into the entire School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, we anticipate that this agreement could lead to break through developments in multiple technical areas,” said Wood.

“I want to be able to say that the Soldier in the field is better off because of something we did in the lab,” said Parker. “We want to make a major contribution to the Army’s future.”

By Jane Benson, CCDC SC