NATICK, Mass. -- The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center recently designed and developed Army face coverings based on the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Defense (DoD) to wear cloth face coverings when social distancing protocols could not be met. Using the collective expertise gained from years of designing, developing and evaluating Army uniforms, load carrying equipment, and parachutes, the CCDC Soldier Center team created several types of face coverings for different applications.
After creating the patterns and testing them with Soldiers, the CCDC Soldier Center’s civilian employees and Soldiers produced more than 12,000 of the prototypes for use by Soldiers in training at Fort Benning, Ga. The patterns and necessary information for large-scale production of the face coverings are now available in a Technical Data Package on the CCDC Soldier Center website, https://ccdcsoldiercenter.army.mil/#/whatwedo .
Face covering designs and material requirements were selected with the highest Soldier acceptance for form, fit and function, and without interferences to other head borne protection systems and ancillary components. Two cloth materials, Nylon/cotton blend and polyester/cotton blends were selected based on suitability of fabrics from past and current Soldier-related clothing development efforts.
The face covering is not regulated by the FDA, is designed to be safe for the wearer, and should not present a health hazard during prolonged, direct contact with the skin. The materials selected do not have any chemical treatments to ensure highest possible safety considerations.
"This effort was a natural fit for the expertise at CCDC Soldier Center as we have expertise in materials that enabled smart choices on the selection of materials to ensure the safety of the users,” said Dr. Richard Green, head of CCDC Soldier Center’s Soldier Protection and Survivability directorate.
“We have expertise in design to make sure that the items’ fit, function, and durability are appropriate for the intended use, the expertise to provide our PM partners with technical data packages for further production and more importantly we have a dedicated team of true professionals who were willing to come to work under restrictive working conditions and speedily execute this project because they understand the importance of meeting this need and getting useful capabilities in our Soldiers’ hands today,” he added.
One size fits all, and all three types of face coverings have adjustable nose bridges for achieving a snug fit, an elastic cord with barrel lock for adjusting and securing the face covering to the face and are reusable and washable.
The information has already been shared with a wide range of organizations and agencies including the British Army, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Missoula County (Montana) Search & Rescue, and the Army Area Support Group – Qatar.
“It is critically import for CCDC Soldier Center to support other government organizations, institutions, local communities and its citizens by sharing these technologies to promote economic recovery due to the effects of the COVID -19 Pandemic being experienced across the nation," said Ken Ryan, chief of the Warfighter Protection branch of the Soldier Protection and Survivability directorate.
The CCDC Soldier Center’s scientific research, product design, and development efforts have now been fully transitioned to the U.S. Army PEO Soldier Product Manager for Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, responsible for the acquisition, procurement and production of the Army face covering for Soldiers.
The Technical Data Package is approved for use by all departments and agencies of the Department of Defense, as well as all other federal, state and municipal organizations, and is provided as an open source of information for others to produce face covers.
"During this pandemic, it is critical to national security to keep our Soldiers protected, healthy and ready to support COVID-19 response efforts and defend the Nation,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of the Soldier Center. “The quick response to get an Army-acceptable solution to the requirement for face coverings is a tremendous accomplishment."
“Getting our Soldiers the best equipment is a team sport and we used all our resources here. A talented team of our employees, Soldiers from the Parachute Rigger section and NCOs and Human Research Volunteers from our Headquarters Research and Development Detachment all worked together to rapidly make the initial prototypes and then make minor design improvements based on feedback from the Soldiers,” he said.
Additional information about the face covering can be found at https://www.army.mil/article/235259/mcoe_natick_sew_masks_to_keep_soldiers_training_during_covid_19_pandemic
For more information on licensing other CCDC Soldier Center technologies, please visit the TechLink website
About CCDC Soldier Center: CCDC SC is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that 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.
CCDC SC is part of CCDC. 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.