The school’s results have been recognized by technical journals and were awarded as one of the best published papers at a Structural Faults and Repair conference in Scotland. However, the guidelines aren’t being accepted easily because there are no codes. Rizkalla has found that reluctance to take a chance on using FRP for steel repair. He feels acceptance will come with time, and believes a lot has already been accomplished.

THERMOPLASTICS DO THEIR BIT
Project: Thermoplastic Helmet Lining
School: University of Alabama—Birmingham
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Director: Uday Vaidya

The defense industry has been one of the biggest investors in composites over the past few years. While much of the material is used in vehicles and infrastructure to protect lives, an equally-important consideration is the apparel soldiers wear.

University of Alabama Professor Uday Vaidya has worked with the Army Research Lab on several projects and developed a lightweight liner made of long fiber thermoplastics (LFT) that adds stiffness without adding weight. LFTs are more commonly associated with the automotive industry, but Vaidya wanted to show how they can be used effectively in unconventional applications.

Vaidya did base science work before producing the product, including pre-testing on the coupons to understand fiber orientations, impact testing, and flow conditions. “One of the obstacles in using these fibers was flow during the molding process,” he says. “Because we were using long fibers, they tend to cool quickly. We had to make the mold quicker to accommodate the fibers.”