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TPI Composites General Manager Kevin Weldi poses with the new Humvee  (Source: Associated Press)
New composite Humvees shed 900 pounds of weight

Humvees are synonymous with transporting troops on the ground during times of war. The ubiquitous workhorses are also pretty lacking when it comes to protection from enemy fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The U.S. Army in conjunction with AM General Corp. and TPI Composites Inc. are looking to composite materials to give its soldiers a better chance at surviving treacherous working conditions on Iraq.

Its latest test bed is a Humvee that features a frame and body made of composite materials. Resin material is used to bond together balsa wood, carbon reinforcements, fiberglass and foam. The use of composite materials on the Humvee shaves 900 pounds off the usual 10,000 to 12,000 pound vehicle weight.

"We can put the strength where we need it," said TPI Composites CEO Steven Lockard. "Every pound of weight we save, that weight is being added back to the vehicle in armor and mine-blast protection."

Additional armor could be placed under and around the cabin area of the Humvee to protect the passengers, while the composites materials alone could be used for the hood and fenders.

Predictably, the new composite-bodied Humvees are slightly more expensive than their conventional counterparts and the Army still hasn't made a firm commitment to purchasing the vehicles.

With that said, TPI Composites is fully prepared should the Army give the company the green light. "We could ramp up pretty quickly to most any volume that would be desired," said Lockard.

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Carbon Fiber
By benny638 on 9/21/2007 10:23:25 AM , Rating: 3
Its important for people to realize that carbon fiber or composities don't really yeild, they break so during a crash that would shatter, aluminum which is used for the frame material in all formula cars absorbs most of the g loading associated with an impact, so the same will hold true for the Hummves. Just like ceramics which offer superior armor propection but are so hard they are brittle. I think there is a Boeing engineer that just got fired because he voiced an openion about using composities in the 787 and it being able to survie a crash. Just food for thought. As an Aerospace Engineer this is something I deal with day in and day out.

RE: Carbon Fiber
By aeroengineer1 on 9/21/2007 1:52:37 PM , Rating: 4
I am saddened once again by the general lack of composites knowledge exhibited by the general population. Everybody here is stating that this thing is going to be built out of carbon fiber and that id doe not yield. Every poster is ignoring the fact that carbon fiber is just that, fibers made of carbon woven together, but carbon fiber composite is something very different. When you add a resin to the matrix, that is where the properties can change, and you can find different resins for different jobs. Some resins are softer than others. Carbon fiber composites tend to have more of a fracturing effect than kevlar. Kevlar and kevlar composites are very flexible. Indeed, it is one of the main components in bulletproof vests (you will not hear that mentioned along side of the Dan Rather story). Indeed there are many more varieties of fiber (matrix) and resin combinations that it is like saying that all metals yeild and do not fracture. If you believe that, please go and buy a tungsten electrode and try and bend it or a high grade tool steel. You will find that these truly shatter, where as composites that break may shatter, but their throwing of shrapnel is very litted because the particles tend to be very light if the part is properly designed.

Also on a side note, the guy that got fired from Boeing is just trying to make a name for himself and trying t damage the company that fired him for saying that he wanted to hang his black supervisor on a meat hook, and was denied whistle blower status here recently as he tried to air this story with Dan Rather. I am not too sure who was more duped, Dan Rather for believing him, or the engineer because Dan Rather used him. If you would like a link here it is.
It is about half way down the story.


RE: Carbon Fiber
By thartist on 9/21/2007 2:51:56 PM , Rating: 3
Yeh, and they are so stupid that they spent hundreds of millions researching a material that is weaker and will just break if shot. Of course.

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