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Machine Design

Ballistic Material for Brain Buckets

For the past two decades high-tenacity fibers such as S-glass, Aramid, and ultrahighmolecular- weight-polyethylene (UHMWPE) have been the materials of choice for making lightweight armor.

But today’s soldiers, police officers, and other security forces now have a 10% lighter helmet that far exceeds Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) specs for impacts. The helmets also meet all ballistic protection specs and greatly reduce shock transference to the person they protect, says Bob Miller, president of Diaphorm Technologies LLC, Salem, N.H. The company makes the composite combat helmets from continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites (CFRTPCs). “In standardized ACH tests,” says Miller, “the helmet transferred one-third less impact to the dummy head than any other helmet tested.”

The new combat helmet is marketed through Diaphorm’s subsidiary, Max Pro- Police & Armor, and is listed as a BA3AMCIP- Combat Ballistic Helmet. The helmet shell construction resembles that of the company’s NIJ Level IIIa tactical helmets — more than 10,000 Level IIIa’s have been worn in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by U.S. Police units.

Diaphorm’s proprietary quick-cycle molding processes combine the inherently tough, lower-density TPs with ballistically rated continuous-fiber reinforcement. This creates monolithic, hybrid, and hard-faced rigid CFRTPC helmet shells that are 10% lighter than other ACH-grade helmets. Current production volumes average 100 units/day. “Demand has been so strong for the new helmets that it tapped out our current capacity,” says Miller. “So we doubled capacity to 50,000 units/yr in May.

Diaphorm has also used the same basic process to produce high-strength, lowweight composite moldings in production and prototype volumes for a variety of performance automotive parts and recreational gear including engine manifolds, solenoid caps, industrial caps, and kayak structural beams. The process is equally well suited for either high or low volumes.

Make Contact
Diaphorm Technologies LLC,
(603) 893-0992,

The molding principles used in Diaphorm’s ballistic helmets and personal chest plates can be employed in other 3D-shaped rigid personal-protection products such as face shields and extremity armor components.

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