It sounds like a joke, but the US Army is developing a Humvee made of foam and balsawood.

It sounds like a joke but it’s actually about using modern materials to stop bullets/shrapnel and using foam to cushion blasts from IED’s. (roadside bombs).
Gizmodo has a photo and reports:

the Army has battled with how to protect Humvees from mines because ironically, adding more armor to the vehicles just weigh them down (and bring them closer to the mines).

The solution was to build a composite frame that makes the Humvee 900lbs lighter (or about 10%). Beyond the weight savings, the other advantage is that the Humvee is reinforced with different composite concoctions where the vehicle needs the most protection from mines (the rear).

A longer Army article is HERE, and technical data HERE.
Presumably there are readers who are engineers and might want to comment on the technical aspects of replacing metal with carbon based material and resin but as a doctor, when the article mentions “foam”, I suspect that much of the new design is about adding foam to try to decrease the blunt brain trauma from IED/roadside bombs.

Defense update news reports:

Advanced blast mitigation materials used in modern protected vehicles also contribute to the reduction of blast effects. Usually, these materials are embedded in the vehicle’s floor to offset some of the explosion. Blast mitigating pads designed to reduce brain damage in case of blast are provided as a standard with most types of modern ballistic helmets. Such pads are also offered as add-on kits for standard helmets.

Traditional body armour has been constantly upgraded to increase protection against shrapnel and bullets, and Kevlar helmets and advanced body armour have greatly decreased penetrative wounds, but the IED’s have led to a high incident of high non penetrating brain injuries caused by the force of the blast itself.There have been several thousand known blunt force head trauma injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, and others that were “minor” but could cause epilepsy and other problems at a later date.

But the Army has been investigating ways to lower the casualty rate from IED explosions, and this is not as simple as adding heavy iron plates to the side of vehicles. And the balsawood Humvee is one of their solutions.
Think of dropping an egg. Heavy metal armour is like putting the egg into a metal egg shaped case: You end up with scrambled egg inside the box. What is needed is something to absorb the force of the blast, like dropping an egg on a pillow.

By replacing the heavy metal with other lighter materials (e.g. Kevlar) that block the bullets/shrapnel instead of heavy armour weight is reduced, and engineers are ale to replace the heavy metal with modern materials to stop blast in areas not well covered by the original Humvee design (i.e. behind and underneath).
The fact that prototypes of Humvees and truck cabs are now being tested suggest that such research has been going on for awhile, and will be in the field in a year or two, yet the MSM hasn’t bothered to notice it…indeed, The Washington Post posted an editorial in April complaining that the Army is doing nothing to prevent such injuries..(Hello, WaPo: did you ever hear of the name “google”? And do you know pediatric nephrologists treat children’s kidneys, not adult head injuries?)

The bad news, of course, is that the normal time lag from development to deployment is years, not weeks, an institutional problem of logistics that is present in all federal bureaucracies.

Finally, you should be aware the CDC is posting a lot of information for civilian docs on how to treat head injuries, and the long term side effects of these injuries.
Now, such traumatic head injuries are common in civilian life (50 000 deaths a year and a million injuries from car accidents, falls, sports etc). In civilian life, these injuries have been decreased by simple things like bike helmets, airbags, seat belts, and even rails in hallways and specialized canes to aid grandmom when she takes a walk.

And so one “side effect” of all of this may be better protection for civilians using these modern materials, from light weight sports helmets to “padded knickers” for grandmom to prevent hip fractures.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes medical essays on HeyDoc Xanga Blog

Be Sociable, Share!