Twin-Sheet Thermoforming Saves Lives

Around 4300 new mine-resistant (MRAP) all-terrain vehicles (M-ATVs) will be delivered to the U.S.

Around 4300 new mine-resistant (MRAP) all-terrain vehicles (M-ATVs) will be

delivered to the U.S. Armed Forces with blast-resistant floors to protect against

improved explosive devices (IEDs). Urgently needed in Afghanistan, the new

M-ATVs, built by Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., use patented plastic cushioning

panels that reportedly provide 71% reduction in blast force transmitted

through the floor. The panels consist of TPU sheets that are twin-sheet thermoformed into a patented twin-hemisphere structure resembling eggshells cut in

half and joined end to end. The formed parts are covered on top by cast thermoset

urethane sheets that are adhesive bonded to the twin hemispheres.

    The plastic protective flooring was developed by Skydex Technologies,

Centennial, Colo. It has used the twin-hemisphere technology in a variety of

military, athletic, marine, and industrial cushioning applications since 2005.

Blast-resistant fl ooring has been used in five different military vehicles for up to

three years but not previously publicized.

    Skydex farms out production of the cushioning to custom manufacturers

throughout the U.S. According to president and CEO Michael Buchen and chief

technology offi cer Peter Foley, it took some effort to obtain suitable TPU sheet:

“We needed a higher level of uniformity,” said Foley. There was also a substantial

early learning curve for forming the twin hemispheres.

Skydex chose TPU for its temperature and abrasion resistance. Its products can

also use TPV or EVA and a hardness range from 87 Shore A to 55D. Some products, such as military helmet pads, are blow molded into twin hemispheres using a pinched-parison technique.

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