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Achievement Award Winners

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2009 Award Recipients

Low Cost Manufacturing of Materials for Improved Warfighter Protection

Prior to this ManTech effort, every ballistic helmet in service for the United States Army and the Marines used a thermoset-based combination of aramid fiber with a PVB-phenolic resin. Although there have been improvements in the aramid fibers, the material and processing technology in the Army Combat Helmet (ACH) was essentially the same as those developed 30 years earlier for the PASGT helmet. This ManTech program focused explicitly on the technology barriers that precluded a new class of significantly improved thermoplastic-based ballistic materials, including new grades of Dyneema, Spectra, and thermoplastic coated aramids. The result of this research has been the independently verified and demonstrated capability to produce a ballistic helmet shell that exhibits an average of 35% improved ballistic protection as compared to the current state-of-the-art Army Combat Helmet (ACH). Historically, improvements of 6-8% were considered “significant.” This work has not only enabled PEO Soldier to reduce the risk in adopting these materials in new specifications for improved Warfighter protection, it has also transformed the current U.S. industrial manufacturing base through several initiatives, including both core and Army ManTech research thrusts. This helmet, directly enabled in part by the ManTech effort, will be fielded in July 2010 to give those soldiers and Marines in active theatre operations a significantly improved level of ballistic head protection.

Government / Industry Team Members:

Low Cost Manufacturing Graphic

F-35 Inlet Duct Robotic Drilling (IDRD)

The state of the art technology for accurately drilling fifth generation fighter aerostructures uses monolithic, numerically-controlled (NC) gantry machines. The tight spatial constraints inside the F-35 Lightning II air inlet ducts, from inside which fastener holes are drilled outward into the surrounding external aluminum support frame members, preclude typical NC drilling solutions and required Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) to undertake this process manually. The manual process is ergonomically challenging and three times too slow to make the span time required for F-35 Full-Rate Production (FRP). The Inlet Duct Robotic Drilling (IDRD) Team established a Manufacturing Readiness Level 7 (MRL-7) production cell demonstrating “Terminally Guided Robots and Robotic Applications in Confined Spaces” as applied to the accurate drilling, countersinking, and inspection of holes inside the inlet ducts. A standard, articulated arm robot employing a compact drill head and low-thrust cutter is guided by a laser tracker while inside an inlet duct, achieving process capability for hole position, bore diameter, and countersink depth. A tool-changer allows the robot to utilize other end effectors, among which are a non-contact, triangulation-based, multi-line laser sensor used for product alignment and a capacitance-based probe used to measure bore diameters and fastener grip length. Robot simulation access studies for the entire F-35 air inlet duct shipset (left, right, aft) across all three F-35 variants validated the feasibility of the commercial drilling cells, shown to be capable of accessing 90% of the total hole count. Out of this effort came the design of a second production end effector and improved tool changer design. Particular emphasis was placed on a smooth transition from the prototype production SBIR cell to the commercial drilling cells.

Government / Industry Team Members:

F-35 Graphic

2009 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award Nominees

The manufacturing technology project nominees that were considered for the tenth annual award were completed and/or demonstrated in FY09 or FY10. The nominees were:

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