Machine Design

Armor for arms

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing gauntlets to help save the arms of military personnel riding on top of Humvees and other military vehicles during combat.

Airman Garrett Martin demonstrates the Sandia gauntlet on top of a Humvee at Albuquerque's Kirtland Air Force base.

Shoulder-length gauntlets are layers of heavy Kevlar with carboncomposite forearm and upper-arm protective inserts. The Kevlar helps dissipate heat from warhead blasts on tissue, and the combination of carbon composite and Kevlar cut down on penetration or shredding from shrapnel on tissue and bone.

Original prototypes called for a one-size-fits-all design with blunt trauma protection for hands, wrists, and elbows, as well as heat and blast protection. Initial field tests led to modifications that included straps to hold the gauntlets in place as well as forearm armor with more flexibility and maneuverability. Army and Air Force members asked that the gauntlets attach in the back of the right and left sleeves with a quick-release buckle. This will let users shed the gauntlets after an initial attack for ground fighting. Other suggestions include adding a neoprene sleeve inside the forearm for a more secure fit and placing a thumbhole in the composite so the gauntlet rotates and moves with the lower arm. The next step is to find a company to massproduce the gauntlets for the military.

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