Title:
Formed-container armor structure and methodology
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for forming a ballistic-impact armor structure (and a resulting structure) having a defined, precision-shaped outside configuration, where the method which results in the structure includes the steps of (a) precision-creating a hollow container having the defined outside configuration, (b) introducing ballistic armor-content material into the interior of the container, (c) positionally stabilizing the introduced armor-content material, and (d) unifying the armor-content material with the container.



Inventors:
Monk, Russell A. (Salem, OR, US)
Ohnstad, Thomas S. (Salem, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/454492
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
06/16/2006
Assignee:
High Impact Technology, L.L.C.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
89/917
International Classes:
F41H5/02
View Patent Images:
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20080047419Armor shieldFebruary, 2008Thompson
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Primary Examiner:
TILLMAN, JR, REGINALD S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JON M. DICKINSON, P.C. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method for forming a ballistic-impact armor structure having a defined, precision-shaped outside configuration comprising precision-creating a hollow container having the defined outside configuration, introducing ballistic armor-content material into the interior of the container, positionally stabilizing the introduced armor-content material, and unifying the armor-content material with the container.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the armor structure as a whole possesses a linear ballistic-response directionality with respect to an impacting object, and lies generally in a plane which crosses the line associated with the mentioned directionality.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the armor structure as a whole possesses a linear ballistic-response directionality with respect to an impacting object, with the container having been created to include an outwardly exposed strike face which crosses the line associated with the mentioned directionality.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the armor structure is intended to have a complementary utility fit within a preselected reception space, and said precision-creating is carried out in a manner whereby the outside configuration of the container complementarily fits such space.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein said precision-creating is carried out in a manner giving at least a preselected portion of the outer configuration of the container a predetermined faux appearance.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the predetermined faux appearance results from an actual, three-dimensional, precision-created surface structure.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said precision-creating is implemented by precision-roto-molding the container as a closed continuum, and which further comprises thereafter (a) providing an access opening in the continuum, and (b) implementing said introducing via inserting the armor-content material through that opening.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein said providing involves returnably removing a portion of the continuum.

9. The method of claim 1 which further comprises, during said precision-creating, introducing independent, relationship hardware so as to result in a precision-created container which is joined to, and which makes outwardly accessible, that hardware.

10. A ballistic-impact armor structure which is formed in accordance with the methodology of claim 1.

11. A ballistic-impact armor structure which is formed in accordance with the methodology of claim 9.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to currently co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/691,509, filed Jun. 16, 2005, for “Formed-Container Armor Structure and Methodology”. The entire disclosure content of that provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention pertains to ballistic-impact armor structure—specifically precision-formed-container armor structure—and to methodology for making such structure.

In today's world, there is much emphasis on, and apparent, or at least perceived, need for, armoring various spaces, things, vehicles, etc., for protection against the threat and reality of a ballistic, or related, attack. There are many associated environments where this is desired, and variously, there are strong interests in achieving successful armoring while at the same time doing so: (a) in relatively light-weight, non-bulky fashion; (b) in a manner which results in a structure that precision-form-fits in relation to a to-be-protected space, i.e., a complementary fit-situation; (c) in ways which disguise the presence of armor, either (1) to deflect attention from the fact that something is being guarded, or (2) to create an esthetically pleasing, faux-appearance, “non-announcement” of the presence of armor, or (3) both of these things; or (d) in other ways which make the placement of armor more user-friendly and acceptable.

It is also desirable to accomplish some or all of these things in manners which are simple, versatile, easily deliverable and installable, and relatively inexpensive in all aspects.

The present invention addresses all of these important considerations in a unique methodologic and structural way which is based upon the known, and otherwise used (i.e., in other settings), practice of precision rotational molding, or roto-molding.

Roto-molding is a process/practice which employs a special kind of motion-based molding machinery, or machine, utilizing a pre-formed, precision mold, and associating this mold appropriately with loading, heating, and cooling zones. In such a practice, and if desired, several molds may be placed in a roto-molding machine at the same time. Typically, pre-measured plastic resin of selectable character is loaded into a mold, and the mold is moved into an oven where it is slowly rotated on both vertical and horizontal axes. Resin introduced into the mold before passing of the mold into the oven, and once heated in the oven, melts and sticks to the hot mold interior surface, coating every part of that surface very evenly. The mold continues to rotate during a subsequent cooling cycle, and as a consequence, each molded component achieves an even wall thickness, resulting, in accordance with a specific important feature and practice of the present invention, in a hollow, initially continuous-walled container (i.e., a continuum) having a specific, precision outside shape and surface characteristic.

This process, i.e., the roto-molding process, enables economical precision molding of controlled material, controlled shape, controlled continuous wall thickness, and controlled outside surface texture and configuration, unitary, hollow, container-like structures, or containers, which can then, in accordance with further practice of the invention, be filled with ballistic armor material, called armor-content material, which is then suitably stabilized within the hollow interior of the container.

These important features of the methodology and resulting structure of the invention, and how they address ultimately all of the armoring considerations expressed earlier herein, will now be more fully presented as the detailed descriptions thereof which follow below are read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified, isometric, broad-facial illustration of a generally rectangular, hollow-container, ballistic-impact armor panel, or armor structure, made in accordance with a preferred practice of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged, fragmentary, partly broken-away, and somewhat more detailed, schematic edge view of the panel of FIG. 1 with a post-roto-molding, replaceable, removable end portion shown in two different positions. Removal and replacement of this end portion exposes and closes an access opening which accommodates filling of the hollow interior of the roto-molded container with interior armor material, here shown to include stabilized, generally parallel-planar layers of somewhat different-constituent armoring elements (armor-content material).

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary detail, with portions broken away, taken generally in the region bracketed by curved arrows 3-3 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a simplified side view of a military vehicle, wherein panel-like, precision-formed and complementarily shaped armor structure, made in accordance with the present invention, is installed both in a door, and in a side-panel area, on the side of this vehicle which faces the viewer in FIG. 4.

FIG. 5 in an enlarged, removed, fragmentary detail of one of the armor panels installed in the vehicle of FIG. 4, illustrating generally how auxiliary, outside-accessible hardware, such as attaching hardware, may be molded into the wall of the hollow-container structure portion of the present invention. Such hardware is also referred to herein as independent, relationship hardware—the term “relationship” being employed to indicate that such hardware establishes, for example, an appropriate attaching relationship for securing a structure (made by practice of the present invention) to selected, external “receiving structure”.

FIG. 6 is somewhat like FIG. 1—showing a panel-like armor structure having a quite different perimetral shape.

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary photo-illustration of armor structure made in accordance with the invention having a container which has been roto-molded to possess a ballistic-impact strike face formed with three-dimensional, precision-molded surface structure giving the predetermined faux appearance of a stone wall.

FIG. 8 is a simplified, schematic view of armor structure including a decidedly non-rectilinear outside shape.

In FIGS. 5, 6 and 8, in relation to FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, common reference characters are employed to identify generally like structures, like parts thereof, and associated illustration elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Beginning with FIG. 1-3, inclusive, a generally planar, panel-like, ballistic-impact armor structure 10 made in accordance with a preferred practice of the present invention is shown. Panel 10, lying generally in a plane 10a (the plane of FIG. 1) includes a hollow-interior, generally rectilinear container 12 having a wall 12a which was initially formed as an uninterrupted, closed-container continuum, by precision roto-molding, out of a selected plastic resin material in accordance with conventional roto-molding technique(s), as generally described earlier herein. While different wall thicknesses may be created as desired in container 12, wall 12a herein has a thickness of about ⅛-inches. A representative typical range of suitable wall thicknesses, in accordance with practice of the present invention, is from about ⅛-inches to about 3/16-inches.

Container 12 may, of course, be formed of any suitable roto-molding material, and may be shaped/configured in a highly precision-controlled manner, versatilely and completely by user selection, by pre-formation (in any convention fashion) of an appropriate roto-molding mode. With respect to this mold, dimensions, outside surface texture and “topography”, and other features may be designed to be whatever is desired by a user.

This versatility and user selectability are what enable the making, according to the invention, of a jacketing formed container which can be form-fit complementarily in any one of a number of different user selectable spaces, and which can possess the “outside” esthetic/disguising characteristics which may be desired.

Container 12 herein is formed of cross-linked polyethylene. Other very suitable plastic resin materials selectable for use in the construction of a container, such as container 12, may include polyethylene, polypropylene, and high-density polyethylene. A typical molding time for forming such a container might be about 30-minutes. As will become apparent, roto-molding of container 12 to finish with what, at least initially, is a completely continuous (i.e., a continuum) wall 12a, is beneficial to ultimate container integrity, and of course to the economy of container manufacture as well.

Container 12, which lies essentially in previously mentioned plane 10a has a hollow interior 12b which is filled, as will shortly be explained, with internal ballistic armor-content material 14 (still to be described) which is introduced into this interior through any suitable form of access opening, such as an opening created by careful returnable removal of a portion of the originally formed container, such as the portion shown generally at 12c. Container portion 12c has been appropriately divided from the remainder of the container, along a parting line 12d formed, for example, by sawing. With portion 12c removed, line 12d effectively defines the mentioned access opening to the interior of the container.

After initial preparation of hollow container 12 by roto-molding, and after an appropriate portion, such as portion 12c shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, of the container has been removed, preferably returnably, by careful sawing (or otherwise severing) to expose the inside of the container, insertion and installation of armor material 14, via opening 12d may take place generally as indicated (very schematically in FIG. 2) by curved arrow 15. Such insertion, of course, takes place with container portion 12c moved out of the way, as is generally indicated by double-headed curved arrow 17, to a suitably displaced position, such as that shown generally in dashed lines at 12c in FIG. 2.

Inserted armor-content material, in a structure like panel structure 10, is preferably placed in a manner so that it generally occupies one or more planes, which plane or planes lie(s) substantially parallel to previously mentioned plane 10a. In the specific panel armor structure 10 which is illustrated herein, several such layers of armor-content material are illustrated, including two layers 16 of side-by-side-adjacent, rectangular, ceramic tiles 16a, and a plurality of layers, such as layers 18, formed of aramid-fibre material.

Other materials which may be employed include various highly hardened steels, plastic armor sheets, ceramic composites, compressed fibreglas, or other appropriate armor materials of otherwise conventional construction.

These inserted and installed layers of armor-content material are organized in such a fashion that structure 10 has what is referred to herein as a linear, ballistic-impact response directionality which is illustrated by arrow 20 in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3—i.e., the direction in which the structure is preferably oriented to receive any ballistic impact. The “line” of arrow 20 is the line of ballistic-response directionality herein. In container 12 of structure 10, tiles 16a are located more closely adjacent the “impact-intended” side (the so-called strike-face side 12e) of the container than are aramid-fibre layers 18. Strike-face side, or strike face, 12e (which, in container 12, is generally planar) extends across the directionality line of arrow 20.

The layer, or layers, of inserted and installed armor-content material are suitably stabilized on the inside of container 12, with stabilizing material herein shown at 22. In structure 10, material 22 takes the form preferably of a poured-in high-elastomeric material, such as the product known as TUFF STUFF® FR made by Rhino Linings USA, Inc. in San Diego, Calif.

Other stabilizing materials which may be used if desired include expanded urethane foam, or appropriately driven-in wedges of a material, such as a urethane material. Such a wedge is shown very schematically in dashed lines at 24 in FIG. 2.

Following full installation and appropriate stabilizing of armor-content material 14, removed container portion 12c, in the particular practice of the invention now being described, is restored and returned to a position closing off the interior of the container. It is appropriately secured in its returned condition through gluing or heat welding, or in any other appropriate manner. One consideration in this context is that this “removed portion” may be re-anchored in position through an appropriate adhesive which offers the opportunity for later removal for internal panel-structure repairs following a damaging ballistic event.

Describing briefly another container “reclosing” approach, it is entirely acceptable to return “opened” container 12 to a fully re-enclosed condition by closing off the installation opening in the container with an appropriate cap structure which may not be the portion of the container removed initially to expose the container's interior.

As was mentioned earlier, the roto-molding process which is employed to create container 12 in structure 10 offers a great deal of versatility and selectability in terms of shape and outside surface quality. For example, and turning attention for a moment to FIG. 4 in the drawings, here, shown generally at 26 is a military vehicle wherein several panels made in accordance with practice of the present invention have been form-fittingly roto-molded, at least with respect to their containers, for complementary fitment in predefined spaces (preselected reception spaces) existing in this vehicle. For example, a generally rectangular, panel-like armor structure 28 (seen in dash-dot lines) has been installed form-fittingly, i.e., complementarily, in a preselected reception door space 30 which exists within a passenger door panel 32 located on the side of vehicle 26 that faces the viewer in FIG. 4. The fit which exists between structure 28 and space 30 is referred to herein as a complementary utility fit.

Similarly, two somewhat differently perimetrally shaped, container-formed panel-like armor structures, shown by dash-dot lines 34, 36, are complementarily fitted into a receiving space (or spaces) firnished in the near side of vehicle 26 in FIG. 4 in the region immediately behind door panel 32. Structures 34, 36, which are shown vertically next adjacent one another as illustrated by dash-triple dot line 38, may, if desired, be formed (i.e., roto-molded) simply as a single structural unit.

As was also mentioned earlier, and turning attention now specifically to FIG. 5 in the drawings, a container-formed armor structure, like structure 10, may be formed in such as fashion that, during roto-molding of its container, appropriate externally exposed hardware, such as the attaching hardware shown generally at 40 in FIG. 5, may be molded into the container wall, such as into container wall 12a, to be exposed through a wall opening, such as the wall opening shown at 12a1 in FIG. 5. Attaching structure 40 may be appropriately provided with anchoring structure, such as that shown at 40a, which becomes embedded within the material forming the container wall.

Such hardware, of any category, may be installed to facilitate securing of an armor structure in place (i.e., to facilitate an attaching “relationship” with external structure), such as might be required with respect to the several-panel installations shown in FIG. 4 in vehicle 26. As was mentioned earlier herein, this hardware, which, strictly speaking, is independent of a roto-molded container, per se, is also referred to herein as independent, relationship hardware.

FIG. 6 shows yet another panel-like armor structure 10 having a still quite different perimetral outline. Reference numerals are employed in FIG. 6, in a manner whereby structural components, and associated features, that are like those described with respect to FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, are commonly/similarly labeled. Those generally skilled in the relevant art will appreciate that FIG. 6 is essentially self-explanatory.

Turning to FIG. 7 in the drawings, here, shown generally at 42, is a panel-like, ballistic-impact armor structure whose strike face 42a has been roto-molded to simulate the appearance of a stone wall, including the “faux-appearance” look of mortared-together “stone elements”, such as those shown at 42. FIG. 7 thus provides a very clear illustration of the capability of the present invention, in its practice, to enable outside surface formation in a manner providing an aesthetic and/or otherwise disguising appearance—readily enabled during, and as a consequence of, the versatile roto-molding approach toward the making of the formed container portion of the armor structure of the present invention.

FIG. 8 in the drawings, also employing a reference-character scheme like that used in FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, shows a distinctly non-rectilinear, non panel-like armor structure 10 with a specially compoundly-curvedly-shaped, roto-molded container 12 filled with appropriate armor-content material 14. As stated with respect to FIG. 6 above, FIG. 8 is also essentially self-explanatory.

From what has been presented above, it will be apparent that one way of describing the methodology of the present invention is to characterize it as featuring a method for forming a ballistic-impact armor structure having a defined, precision shaped outside configuration, with this method including the steps of (a) precision-creating a hollow container having the desired, defined outside configuration, (b) introducing ballistic armor-content material into the interior of the created container, (c) positionally stabilizing the introduced armor-content material, and (d) unifying the armor-content material with the container.

This methodology may be further viewed as one wherein the mentioned precision-creating step is implemented by precision-roto-molding the container as a closed continuum, and thereafter, in terms of carrying out the introducing step, (1) first providing an access opening in the container continuum, and then (2) implementing the armor-content introducing step, per se, by inserting the armor-content material through that access opening.

Thus, a unique formed-container armor structure, and an appropriate roto-molding methodology for container formation, have been illustrated and described herein. They have been described and illustrated in a manner which clearly demonstrates the ability of the present invention to meet all of the special and important considerations and concerns/desires of the current state of the art with respect to furnishing armor structure of the type discussed earlier and above herein. Formed-container structures may be created in a very wide variety of sizes, configurations and surface qualities to meet a very side range of needs.

The preferred roto-molding container-forming process is, as described, a precision process which enables the construction of armor structures, in accordance with the present invention, designed to form-fit complementarily in a wide variety of differently shaped receiving spaces. Roto-molding offers, in the setting of the present invention, numerous design advantages over other container-forming processes. The roto-molding process, for example, has a number of inherent design strengths, such as consistent wall thickness and strong outside corners that are virtually stress free. If additional strength is required, for example in a container to be employed in the present invention, appropriate reinforcing ribs can be designed into such a container. Additives to help make a container weather resistant, flame retardant, or static free can be specified. As suggested, or hinted-at, above, inserts, and other things, such as threads, handles, minor undercuts, flat surfaces that eliminate draft angles or fine surface detail can all be part of a container's design.

Different specific arrangements and materials may be employed for specific armor structure components (armor-content materials) which are inserted into the interior of the proposed, roto-molded formed container, with these installed armor components stabilized in any one of a number of different suitable ways. If desired, an originally created access opening provided to the interior of the once (i.e., initially) continuous-walled container may be closed in such a fashion that the container may be reopened later if desired to perform internal repairs after a damaging ballistic event. Armor structures constructed in accordance with the invention are preferably made with a ballistic impact directionality as mentioned.

Accordingly, while a preferred embodiment of, and manner of practicing, the present invention has been presented herein, and several variations and modifications have been suggested, it is appreciated that many variations and modifications, other than those specifically pointed out herein, may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.