Fabrication of a First Article Lightweight Composite Technology Demonstrator  Exospine

Report No. ARL-TR-6178
Authors: Jared M. Gardner, Larry R. Holmes, Jr., and Jerome T. Tzeng
Date/Pages: January 2014; 28 pages
Abstract: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has fabricated a lightweight composite technology demonstration exospine. The composite exospine allows for load transfer off of a Soldiers shoulders and back, directly to the waist and legs, in order to reduce spine related injuries caused by the load carried during typical field maneuvers. Previous work conducted at the Center for Composite Materials, University of Delaware (UD-CCM, Newark, DE) focused on the design and optimization of the stiffness and weight of the structure through use of composite materials. Although the demonstrator is not evaluated mechanically in the scope of this work, since the work focuses only the fabrication of the article, it is expected to perform comparably to a baseline metal design from Emerald Touch Inc. (Duncanville, TX) that is capable of bearing a full loading of a typical Soldiers field gear. The demonstrator is constructed of a plain woven carbon fiber fabric, an epoxy resin matrix, and a low-density foam core. The finished first article demonstrator shows that the design is feasible for fabrication using standard composite processing methods and weighs only 263 g (9.28 oz). This report provides a detailed description of the fabrication of the exospine composite technology demonstrator.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: January 1, 2014