Continuing the lightweighting theme, that CSIRO covered in an exclusive report for TTNA earlier this year, Dr Randy Meirowitz, President and Consultant, RND Technical Solutions Inc. confirmed that achieving more with less resources – especially input materials, labour to manufacture, energy use throughout a product’s lifecycle – will be increasingly important as lifecycle thinking is applied to all forms of manufactured products and services.
With a B.A. and Ph.D. in Chemistry (with an emphasis in the area of Physical Organometallic Chemistry) and an inventor, or author of over three dozen patents and publications, Dr Meirowitz sees lightweighting as an area rich with commercial opportunities across a raft of applications for textiles, including buildings and light structures; medical and healthcare applications; and protection and safety-related textiles to name a few.
A necessity driven by some very important, but complex issues – including global warming, carbon emissions, resource scarcity and sustainability - lightweighting often requires the redesign of a traditional product. Legislation that is gradually being introduced throughout the European Union to reduce CO2 emissions from heavy transport vehicles is a profound example of how policy is driving demand for lightweighting in transport; and driving the uptake of composite technology and thus advanced reinforcing materials. Large technology and textile companies are positioning themselves, through take-overs and research and development partnerships, to take advantage of the commercial opportunities that will result. Protection and safety-related textiles, particularly those that protect troops is another productive area for lightweighting. The combined load, comprising between the helmet, body armour, weapon and ammunition, night vision goggles, rucksack, power sources, radio, rations, boots and uniforms for todays’ soldiers averages around 43 kilos (U.S. Army, non-leader - size large); compared to approximately 16 kilos in World War.
Dr Meirowitz confirmed that light weight protective equipment remains a critical area of research with carbon, Kevlar, Twaron, Dyneema, Spectra (type) fibre composites playing a significant role.