REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 19, 2020) – A partnership between the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, U.S. Air Force and University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, could positively impact the readiness of the Warfighter and success of Future Vertical Lift.The decadelong international collaboration resulted in the issuance of U.S. patent 10,618,262 on April 14. The U.S.-owned patent is for a composite material fabrication process which has shown improvements in stiffness and fracture-resistant material properties, technology that has the potential to lead to reduced crack propagation in the Future Vertical Lift Army modernization priority area.“There’s a lot of uniqueness in research areas and it’s a lot better to partner than recreate,” said John Preston, former CCDC Aviation & Missile Center aviation science advisor to CCDC Atlantic. “When you think about the time involved, the persistence and the fact that this still going on – it’s a patent, not a product yet – this is quite a success story.”In the patent, University of Sheffield researchers note that as the use of composite materials increases in manufacturing, so are the demands on the material and the ways in which it is used, necessitating a stronger, but not substantially heavier, material. The patented composite material fabrication process uses resin "islands” – inkjet-printed resin dots – placed precisely on laminate layers. A different, thermoplastic resin is applied between layers prior to curing of the composite material. The different resins interact to prevent cracks from propagating in the composite. For Dr. Patrick Smith, senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, “the key appeal lies in improving the properties of carbon fiber composites whilst maintaining their weight-saving advantage.”The inventors’ initial contact was with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research – International in 2010 and resulted in an international research grant in 2011. Further collaborative research, facilitated by CCDC Atlantic, was funded by the AFOSR European Office of Aerospace Research and Development and CCDC AvMC via a second international grant in 2014 and a cooperative agreement in 2016, respectively. CCDC AvMC, which incorporates innovative technology solutions, cutting-edge science and technology, and partnerships to provide rapid, cost-effective solutions to complex aviation and missile challenges, contributed more than $150,000 to the research.With scientists and engineers stationed around the world, CCDC is constantly on the lookout for collaboration opportunities that have the potential to close capability gaps. Global partnerships ensure time, talent and money aren’t spent on duplicating efforts, while advancing science and technology developments to best support the Warfighter.“By identifying emerging, innovative research and technology, making connections, and building collaborative relationships, we are able to leverage the expertise and capabilities of our allies and ultimately bring the very best solutions to our Warfighter,” said Amanda Napier, CCDC Atlantic International Technology Center-Southern Europe technical director. “We seek out technologies across the TRL spectrum, and investing in basic research like this is key to fostering the innovation that may enable greater capability several years down the road.”Just because the patent has been awarded does not mean the partnership has to end. Communications are ongoing regarding the potential applications of the technology, especially as they relate to the missions of CCDC AvMC and CCDC Army Research Laboratory.“This success story has opened the door for our continued pursuit of world-class research at the University of Sheffield and globally,” said Dr. Kelly Risko, global science advisor - aviation and missile, CCDC AvMC. “International grants and cooperative agreements are just two examples of how we identify and facilitate opportunities to collaborate with academia, industry, and the government/labs of our partners/allies in support of the Army.”--The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.