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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R015155/1
Title: Hybrid Additive Manufactured-Aramid fibre body armour
Principal Investigator: Johnson, Dr AA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Home Office
Department: Loughborough Design School
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 May 2018 Ends: 31 July 2019 Value (£): 100,699
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design & Testing Technology Design Engineering
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Nov 2017 Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel - Nov 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Body armour is essential to protect personnel in situations where they may be exposed to puncture or penetrative threats. The protective performance of armour can be split into four categories:

1. Blunt trauma protection - often achieved using an Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam and moulded Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) outer shell.

2. Stab resistance - typically achieved using a rigid Polycarbonate (PC) chest plate.

3. Ballistic resistance - Lower level protection via a laminated network of aramid or Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibre layers, with higher protection achieved using ceramic plates.

4. Multi-threat (stab and ballistic resistance) - Achieved using a combination of aramid/UHMWPE fibres and a PC chest plate.

Whilst protection against ballistic threats can be achieved through the use of aramid-fibre armour, such armour is unsuitable at providing protection against lower velocity sharp force threats such as blades or spikes. This is due to the sharp force threat penetrating between the individual fibrous elements of the armour. Therefore, to achieve stab and ballistic resistance the use of aramid/UHMWPE fibres coupled with a PC chestplate is often required. By doing so, the improved manouverability typically offered by fibre-based armour is substantially reduced. Whilst the protective performance of these articles have progressed since their introduction, users of such armour frequently report of ill-fitting and uncomfortable garments. This, combined with the high weight and low breathability of protective articles such as PC and aramid-based armour, at best results in impaired performance such as reduced running speeds or operational manouevrability, and at worst can lead to physiological effects including nerve damage and severe musculoskeletal injuries.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the name for group of manufacturing techniques which can produce extremely complex geometries with little or no additional costs. The use of these processes for the production of clothing has already been demonstrated in the fashion arena with the development of highly articulated linkable textile-like structures. Recent work conducted by the PI has also demonstrated that AM technologies can also be utilised to achieve stab resistance to the internationally recognised UK Home Office body armour protective standards.

This project seeks to utilise the design and manufacturing opportunities offered by AM technologies, coupled with the enhanced protective performance and manouverability of existing aramid-based armour. To achieve this a range of AM material optimisation and Computer Aided Design (CAD) activities, as well as stab and ballistic validation exercises will be performed within the grant period. The development of this hybrid protective system could present a significant leap in the development of the next generation of body armour in which the physical comfort of the wearer and their subsequent operational performance is as important a factor as protective performance. In summary, this research will aim to produce the first generation hybrid AM-aramid fibre body armour panel capable of providing protection against stab and ballistic threats.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk