By Ms. Jane Benson (CCDC SC)September 17, 2019
NATICK, Mass. -- The Design, Pattern and Prototype Team at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center has a new and improved Design, Pattern and Prototype Studio.
The CCDC Soldier Center is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America's warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC's chief areas of focus. The center's science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers' performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
The new facility will further advance the work of the Design, Pattern and Prototype Team, which is part of the CCDC SC's Soldier Protection and Survivability Directorate. The team designs and fabricates prototypes of a wide range of clothing, equipment, and protective gear, including chemical-biological protection, body armor, field and combat clothing, dress uniforms, and cold- and hot-weather clothing.
"The CCDC Soldier Center's new Design, Pattern and Prototype Studio provides a professional, cutting-edge workspace that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation," said Douglas Tamilio, director of CCDC SC. "The facility's new capabilities range from precision cutting of ballistic protective materials to seam-sealing of chemical-biological protective items. The upgraded facility will significantly increase our ability to develop and prototype clothing, equipment and protective gear, working to increase the performance and lethality of our Soldiers."
The studio provides each designer his or her own work space and also features a large, open space to foster communication among designers.
"The new design studio provides a professional studio space, which thoughtfully encompasses clean aesthetics, balanced lighting, cohesiveness of people, and optimized workflow/ergonomics," said Annette LaFleur, team leader for the Design, Pattern and Prototype Team. "The new design inspires productivity, and maximizes current capabilities and yet is flexible in design to accommodate future capabilities."
To help team members carry out their all-important work, the new studio includes improved capabilities and equipment. One of the new capabilities is a multi-ply cutting table.
"The versatile table can cut ballistic materials up to one-inch thick or a single ply of dress fabric -- and everything in between," said LaFleur. "This equipment reduces time for cutting and creates precise pattern geometry."
The team shares the cutter with CCDC Soldier Center's Infantry Combat Equipment Team.
"The Infantry Combat Equipment Team finds the cutter invaluable in terms of cutting high plies of ballistics for lightweight helmet prototyping, which is done right here onsite in their new helmet lab," said LaFleur.
LaFleur's team also jointly acquired a dual-source laser cutter with the Optical and Electromagnetic Materials Team.
"The laser cutter is great in terms of sealing the edges of synthetic materials to prevent fraying," said LaFleur.
The new studio has other updates as well.
"In terms of sewing equipment, we have a full range of 30-plus, light-to-medium duty industrial sewing machines," said LaFleur. "We upgraded to a new seam-sealing machine, which is used for taping seams in certain items, like raingear, to make them waterproof. The seam-sealing machine is also used to apply impermeable, specialty tapes for chemical-biological protective items. We also upgraded to a computerized multi-use keyhole buttonhole machine that also creates sewn eyelets."
The Design, Pattern and Prototype Team is known for finding creative solutions to meet Soldier needs and for fostering partnerships with other CCDC SC teams.
"We have great partnerships with the parachute/load carriage and tent design/prototyping teams when we need heavier-weight sewing capabilities," said LaFleur.
LaFleur's team is committed to developing items for all service members and is working to meet the clothing and protection needs of the growing number of females serving in the military.
CCDC SC's commitment to developing items for female Soldiers was noted by Farrah E. Ridore, regional director for Senator Elizabeth Warren's office, who attended the new design studio's open house on September 10.
"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Warren recognizes that our men and women in uniform need the very best equipment and clothing to be able to conduct their mission," said Ridore. "I was pleased to visit Natick on the Senator's behalf and receive an update on their important work. I was particularly struck by Natick's enhanced focus on innovations in clothing and equipment for female service members. This effort is critical and I look forward to visiting Natick in the future to learn more about the progress of this project and others at the center."
The new studio and equipment will enable team members to do their jobs even better, but it is their talent and dedication to serving the Soldier that further drive the team's success.
"Besides being fortunate to have this newly renovated design studio and a vast array of equipment and software to do our jobs -- most importantly, we have the right talent," said LaFleur. "The team is made up of ten clothing designers and one industrial design intern. I can't say enough about the diverse talent, positive attitudes and forward thinking of those on the Design Team. At the end of the day, their work is behind the great products that make Soldiers optimized, protected and lethal."