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Best armor available
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, May 15, 2008

This, to me, is probably the most interesting story of the entire fair.

Let me set the stage. Three young men, Kirby Knowles, Stanley Chu and Tyler French, all attending Dutchtown High School in beautiful Hampton GA, are in a literature class together. The teacher assigns a project concerning current events. At the time, the problem of Dragon Skin's armor was in the news, and the argument of which was better for our troops - Dragon Skin or Pinnacle.

As you might imagine, the controversy captured the imagination of young men who also saw the possibility of turning their literature project into an upcoming science project.

When you see the work they've done, you too will be impressed.

The "bullet stopping" ability of an armor vest is found in the boron carbon plates they use. Boron carbon is the second hardest compound on earth, with diamonds being the hardest. It is formed into a ceramic by intense pressure giving it a strength of armor grade steel.

When the young men looked into the design of the plates, they found that they were formed in about 1.5 inch diameter circles which were convex. The plates overlapped thus giving the wearer the flexibility to move.

You can see a the present design in the picture below. The white circles on the right are the present system.


But, they discovered as they researched present armor technology, there are some drawbacks with the convex system. One was ricochet. If the plate didn't completely absorb the round, the convex shape meant it would ricochet away. Hopefully it wouldn't ricochet into the limbs of the soldier wearing the vest, but experience said that's exactly what happened at times. Additionally, if it hit at the joint of the plates, it could also be injurious.

So the goal of Knowles, Chu and French's experiment was to see if they could find a way to improve on the ballistic plates by testing the geometric shapes of aluminum plates while still keeping the flexibility necessary for the ballistic plates to be most effective.

What you see laying on the table in the picture below are the aluminum plates they used to test their designs. On the right is the convex plate which represents the present design. During a brain-storming session, the suggestion was made to make one that is the exact opposite - a concave plate. They did that and tried it out. That led to the design of the hybrid plate you see laying on the left which is a combination of the concave and convex.


The young men then took their idea and put it into AutoCad, refining the design. You can see the final design below left on the computer screen.


They also designed a system to test the three plate designs. First they used a class II HeNe laser to test the design of each of the plates and chart the probable ricochet/deflection angle of each round. They did 30 trials for each plate.

The laser trial showed that the hybrid convex-concave model had the least angle deviation, with an average of 24.7 degrees, while the present convex design showed angle deviations up to 42.2 degrees.

The second part of their test involved using high powered pneumatic .177 cal BB gun to simulate as closely as possible the action of an actual ballistic round. You can see the control box they built to safely fire the gun sitting in front of the laser.

The gun testing confirmed what they'd found with the laser. The hybrid convex-concave plate was superior in directing ricochets away from the wearer and providing even more protection than the present design.

And, as an unintended but positive consequence, they found that the design enabled the plates of the hybrid design to interlock better (the lip giving the plates overlapping it something with which to grip while maintaining desired flexibility).

I really enjoyed talking with these young men and I'm of the opinion what they've done is both impressive and important. Hopefully, with enough visibility, this design will find its way into the vests our soldiers are wearing. If they do, it will be because three young men got excited about a literature cum science project and turned their interest into something which may, in the near future, save soldier's lives.


 
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McQ,
I hope you gave them two pieces of advice: 1) get it patented, and 2) apply for a DARPA grant immediately following the end of the fair. In fact, do both now.

Dang, I wish I had been that smart when I was their age.
 
Written By: Warriuor Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
I asked them about that and they said they had consulted a lawyer and were documenting everything. But to this point, I don’t believe they’ve applied for a patent. I told them at a minimum to use the old "writer’s copyright" - load everything in an envelope, mail it to themselves and have date stamped proof of when they came up with the idea.
Dang, I wish I had been that smart when I was their age.
Pretty impressive young men, in a hall filled with pretty impressive young men and women. They’ll renew your faith in today’s youth, I promise.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
This is amazing. I simply cannot say anything else. This is what happens when technology and knowledge are democratized and available to everyone.
 
Written By: Zeno
URL: http://sosoonnomore.blogspot.com/
Impressive. And if nothing else, they may have a long career ahead of them making chainmail for the SCA.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://kishnevi.wordpress.com/
Impressive. And if nothing else, they may have a long career ahead of them making chainmail for the SCA.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://kishnevi.wordpress.com/
Which itself pays pretty good.

But if this stuff does well in full-up testing, these three boys deserve to be made richer than the dreams of Averice
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Very impressive. Given the comments the DoD testers made about Dragon Scale (specifically about the vests failing temperature testing, with the scales failing to stay secured to the underlying vest), it seems like the next step for them would be tackling that design flaw. In any case, I wish them luck. Hopefully they can get a DARPA or some other grant to recreate their tests with actual ballistic materials.
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
Plus Dragon Scale weighed FAR MORE than IBA for a given size....
 
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Patriots.
 
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