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Posted: April 11, 2007

Nanotechnology solutions will contribute to DARPA's Armor Challenge Program

(Nanowerk News) The primary concern today with armor is the tradeoff of weight and performance. The most visible and cited example is the Humvee fleet, which has been extensively retrofitted with RHA steel armor kits. The additional weight has decreased the range of the vehicles, caused early suspension system failures and resulted in vehicle maneuverability and handling issues.
The purpose of the DARPA Armor Challenge is to identify revolutionary and promising new armor systems for military vehicles. The Armor Challenge is aimed primarily at inventors and small organizations that do not have the resources to initiate full-scale armor development programs. New armor concepts are evaluated on a continuous basis to ensure that potentially valuable ideas are not overlooked. The Armor Challenge is not a full development program, but qualified participants are reimbursed for the costs of manufacturing initial test articles. Participants will be evaluated based on ballistic test results generated at a qualified testing facility during periodic “shoot-offs,” as well as cost effectiveness of the armor design. Successful armor designs will be considered for follow-on testing or potential armor development programs.
An example of a participant in this program is Modumetal, a small business that is revolutionizing material and net-shape part production processes through nanostructured metal alloy fabrication. Modumetal is currently working on applications of this nano-production process for products spanning military armor and lightweight automotive parts to household consumer goods.
Modumetal™ is a patent-pending material and manufacturing process that is intended to deliver exceptionally strong and tough parts through the exploitation of nanotechnology principals and applications. Through a production process called Modumetalization™, the company can "grow" three-dimensional, nanolaminated metal alloys that are much lighter than steel, but at the same time are expected to outperform steel in energy absorption and ballistics protection. In addition, Modumetal is expected to resolve issues that are commonly associated with the lightweight alternative, ceramic armors, namely high cost and multi-hit performance.
Source: Darpa, Modumental
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