Lightweighting and new hybrid material compounds

DMTC is leading studies into the potential use of hybrid composites – that is, new compounds that combine the advantages of multiple material systems to create components that outperform traditional metals or other manufacturing materials.

Lightweighting is a priority for militaries worldwide, to ensure forces are protected, deployable and agile. DMTC and its partners are looking to uncover novel material compounds that offer comparable or enhanced levels of survivability and performance without increasing the load or weight burden on either the dismounted soldier or the land vehicle platform.

DMTC’s work on alternate material solutions is providing vital performance data, simulation, damage and life-of-type analysis that can be fed into the engineering and design of future vehicle components.

The involvement of both researchers and industry partners allows the team to test new material configurations and identify the differences in performance as compared to conventional materials.

All technical milestones have been achieved under the first of three planned stages of this multi-year project. DMTC is working with Thales Australia, Imagine Intelligent Materials, University of Queensland, Deakin University, Swinburne University and RMIT. In 2018, Tasmanian SME Penguin Composites joined the project team.

Consistent with DMTC’s dual aims to enhance Defence capability and build Australian industrial capability, our project team is seeking to both:

  • evaluate the suitability of specific hybrid composite structures, including complex sandwich structures and the use of nanomaterials to provide added strength and functionality, for potential application on Defence platforms; and
  • exploit opportunities to develop and upskill domestic supply chains to produce and integrate selected hybrid composite material systems into defence manufacturing.

To provide the technical assurance that the Defence customer demands, the investigation of new or unique composites will necessarily involve comprehensive testing against a complex set of scenarios including threat survivability, mobility, functionality and durability in a variety of terrains, and extreme thermal environments.

As with many DMTC projects, proving the cost-effectiveness of new materials is also extremely challenging due to the low volume of parts typically required for military vehicle production runs, and the relative immaturity of supply chains given the novel characteristics of the new material structures.