Vol. 17, No. 35July 9, 1998

CCM director, alumni win Army tech award

John W. Gillespie Jr., Center for Composite Materials, and two of his former graduate students- Bruce K. Fink '91PhD/EG and Steven H. McKnight '96PhD/EG, both now with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL)-won the Paul A. Siple Memorial Award for their paper "Co-Injection Resin Transfer Molding for Optimization of Integral Armor." The highly competitive award was presented June 17 at the 21st Army Science Conference on "Science and Technology for the Army After Next," in Norfolk, Va.

The paper describes the invention and development of the science base for co-injection resin transfer molding (CIRTM) and diffusion-enhanced adhesion (DEA) jointly by the UD Center for Composite Materials and ARL. When applied in tandem, these two processing technologies enable the manufacture of lightweight composite/ceramic integral armor, offering significant cost reduction and performance enhancement over existing defense industry practices.

CIRTM allows single-step manufacturing of integral armor through simultaneous injection of multiple resins into a multilayer preform. Its invention and development have taken place under the Composite Materials Research (CMR) Collaborative Program between ARL and UD. Fink and Gillespie are co-inventors of CIRTM (with others) under the CMR program.

McKnight and Gillespie demonstrated that adhesion between dissimilar materials can be dramatically improved where diffusion of a reacting thermoset into a thermoplastic polymer is possible. This phenomenon, now known as DEA, is being exploited as a means of separating the different resins during CIRTM processing while achieving good bonding between layers.

Developed and patented by McKnight, Gillespie and others, DEA also was recently selected as one of only 17 examples in a Department of Defense publication recognizing basic research that has been rapidly transitioned from the laboratory to the field.

"This award represents one example of the synergy resulting from this collaborative program, where basic research can be successfully transitioned to Army applications," Gillespie said. In addition to being technical director of CCM, Gillespie has joint appointments as associate professor of materials science and civil and environmental engineering.

Given in memory of Dr. Paul A. Siple, first U.S. scientific attache to Australia and New Zealand, the biannual award includes a silver medallion for achievement that was presented to Fink and McKnight.