Dan Baechle is the lead investigator on MAXFAS, a mechatronic arm exoskeleton that is designed to improve firearm aim stabilization with motors that pull the arm with cables, like a puppeteer and control algorithms that stabilize the arm and damp out the tremors that naturally occur when most people shoot firearms.

A mechanical engineer at the Army Research Lab is building a mechatronic arm exoskeleton to both train soldiers to shoot and improve soldiers’ accuracy in combat.

The exoskeleton is designed to eliminate the non-voluntary tremor in a shooter’s arm while aiming and shooting. Much like a puppet, the exoskeleton has a series of motors and cables to dampen the tremor to allow shooters to gain greater accuracy.

Dan Baechle started working on the program called MAXFAS while earning his Master’s degree at the University of Delaware. He got the idea for the device after seeing how exoskeletons help stroke victims relearn how to use limbs.

Baechle has brought the project to ARL where he works on it in his free time and is trying to find funding to continue research and testing on the project. [click to continue…]


Ballistic WallpaperMore homeowners are tearing down wallpaper then putting it up in their homes. Yet a group of Army engineers think wallpaper could be more valuable than ever for soldiers seeking shelter.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is developing a ballistic wallpaper that would protect soldiers by shoring up abandoned masonry or brick used as temporary shelter in the case of a blast.

The wallpaper is made of Kevlar fiber threads embedded into flexible polymer film, said Nick Boone, an ERDC research mechanical engineer, at the Pentagon’s Lab Day last week. [click to continue…]



U.S. Army scientists are working with a new database of the human body to ensure uniforms and equipment fit female and male soldiers better.

The Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, completed the latest comprehensive anthropometric survey of soldiers, called ANSUR II, in 2012.

The ANSUR II 3-D Shape Database uses three-dimensional shapes and contour data to improve the fit of clothing and equipment for warfighters. It incorporates the latest Army anthropometric survey data and 3-D whole body scans, providing a searchable platform for the data and the 3-D shapes.

The previous survey was completed in 1988.

The 2012 survey set out to address changes in Army personnel body size and shape, and the resulting data showed that soldiers have increased in overall body girth since 1988. The new study also set out to document the sizing needs of the increasing number of women serving in the military.

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Body-Armor-600x400A research team at MIT funded by the U.S. Army has developed a flexible armor using fish scales as inspiration, according to a study published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Produced by a 3-D printer, the material is a scale design that offers both flexibility and protection. The finished product is still in development and much more complex, but put simply, the outer layers are rigid and the under layers are more flexible and adaptive to the body.

The U.S. Army Research Office is the agency funding work done by the MIT mechanical engineer Stephan Rudykh. The famous engineering university has the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies on campus.

Army leaders have pushed for advances in materials to protect soldier as the service looks to lighten the load of soldiers. The Army has made strides to make body armor more form fitting, but this scale design would yield a major breakthrough in terms of comfort and weight. [click to continue…]

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U.S. Army scientists are trying to show how better-fitting body armor can improve a soldier’s performance.

Members of the Anthropology and Human Factors Teams at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are conducting a range-of-motion and encumbered anthropometry study to better understand the link between fit and performance with the Improved Outer Tactical Vest Gen III.

“We have this belief that if the fit of the body armor is really good, then the performance is going to be maximized,” Dr. Hyeg joo Choi, the principal investigator for the study, said in an Oct. 9 Army press release. “So the question is how can we quantify a good fit so that soldiers’ performance is maximized?”

To help answer that question, Choi and her fellow researchers collected measurements from 23 soldiers at Natick, including 21 males and two females.

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Enduring FreedomCommon sense tells you that wearing your helmet and body armor in combat will increase your odds of survival, but British Army researchers said evidence to objectively demonstrate the advantage of body armor is scarce.

A British medical unit mapped the surface wounds of all NATO and Afghan troops treated at the field hospital at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, from July 8 to October 12, 2012. The doctors and nurses compared the wounds with the body armor the soldiers wore.  They also mapped the wounds of those who did not have the protective helmet or armor on at the time they were hit.

And what they found was that troops wearing a helmet were 2.7 times less likely to sustain a fragmentation wound to the head than those that were unprotected. Body armor made it 4.1 times less likely that the soldier would suffer a fragmentation wound to the chest or abdomen, while a pelvis protector improved the wearer’s odds against a wound to the pelvic area by 10 times. [click to continue…]

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LAS VEGAS — Point Blank Enterprises Inc., a top supplier of body armor to the U.S. military, is out with a new series of ballistic vests that are tougher and lighter than existing products, company officials said.

The so-called Alpha Elite series comes in two versions: the Level II Elite concealable and the Level IIIA Alpha-1 tactical. The latter is 31 percent thinner and 23 percent lighter, yet 5 percent stronger than previous designs, according to Michael Foreman, vice president of government and international sales at the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company. [click to continue…]