Manufacturing Processes For Competitive Advantage

When developing the manufacturing processes for a new product, it is common to follow the same methods as similar products. In the case of ballistics armor plates, the common method of manufacturing is compression molding. This process consists of two steel plates with one or more cavities to produce the final product. The raw material is placed in the cavity and the plates are clamped together under high pressure and heated to a specified temperature. This method is effective but does not allow for large improvements in cycle time and productivity.

A different approach has been employed by ShotStop Ballistics®. In addition to our patented Duritium® technology, which allows a thinner and lighter ballistics plate to achieve the same performance as traditional plates, a proprietary mold heating and cooling process was developed. This process allows for faster cycle times, which translates to lower cost per part.

ShotStop also employs stack molding, which increases the number of parts per cycle. For example, one traditional two-plate compression mold will produce one part, while a four-plate compression mold will produce three more of the identical parts in the same amount of time. Stack molds are more expensive initially, but the increased production recovers the initial cost quickly. The size of the part being produced and the size of the molding press are the primary limiting factors when considering stack molding.

These approaches to production help ShotStop provide a superior product at a lower cost to the consumer.

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Ballistics Failure Analysis

Best practice to address ballistics failure analyses with CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) to solve the performance challenges in armor projects.

When designing a ballistics solution for body armor or other applications, there are many approaches to achieve a certain level of protection. One method may be to copy an existing solution as closely as possible, then physically test to see if the desired results are achieved. Another is to develop prototypes by calculating strength and again physically test. Both methods are prone to errors and multiple tests are expensive.

A third option is to design the ballistics solution using a modern Computer Aided Design (CAD) program. There are several programs available with varying features and price points. These also include basic simulation with more advanced simulation available as an add-in. If necessary, the CAD model can be imported onto a stand-alone simulation application.

It is important that the correct material properties be applied to the CAD model. Material density, Poisson’s ratio and modulus of elasticity (Young’s modulus) should be included in the material properties. If these properties are incorrectly entered, the product may not perform as expected even though the simulation may indicate otherwise.

It is best practice to run basic simulation early in the design process. This will provide insight in product weight, indicate if the specified material is suitable, and identify areas that do not meet a specified factor of safety.  If the simulation fails or the product is too heavy, other materials and thickness may be tested. It is possible to test several design iterations without expensive prototypes and physical testing.

Once the design passes the basic simulation test it may be desirable to use advanced simulation. This can identify areas where less material may be used or other areas that may reduce production costs, as well as identifying possible performance issues not seen with basic simulation. This information can be used to produce a high performing product at the lowest possible cost, benefiting the manufacturer and the consumer.

The use of Computer Aided Engineering and simulation is widely used in virtually every industry, with advances in capability almost daily. These products and techniques will produce products that will save lives in police, military and civilian applications.

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