Members of the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Low Cost Zinc Sulfide Missile Dome Manufacturing Technology Program were recently presented with the Defense Manufacturing Excellence Award.
The National Center For Advanced Technologies gives the Defense Manufacturing Excellence Award annually to a small working group in the defense manufacturing community that has made outstanding contributions to furthering manufacturing science and technology in the United States.
The award acknowledges the contributions of those scientists, designers, engineers or managers of manufacturing who have sought to research, develop or practice ways and means to increase productivity, affordability or technical superiority of U.S. defense systems.
The team, managed by Anthony Haynes, Lead General Engineer and Program Manager, Manufacturing Technology Branch, Manufacturing Science and Technology Division of the Engineering Directorate, consisted of fellow AMRDEC Scientists and Engineers and members of the Raytheon Company, earned the award for their work with zinc sulfide (ZnS) materials.
"Beginning in 2005, the Affordability and Manufacturing Engineering Team of the Manufacturing Science and Technology Division collaborated with other Directorates in AMRDEC to identify cost drivers within dual and tri-mode seeker systems. The largest component cost driver was found to be the zinc sulfide optical dome, which is the missile's window to the battlefield, passing the optical wavelengths of interest inside to the seeker," Haynes said.
After further investigation, AMRDEC Engineers and Scientists discovered the dome cost issues were solely related to manufacturing processes. The AMRDEC Team, with members from Haynes' Engineering Directorate and two other Directorates were involved in a trade off analysis which included cost, dome thickness, quality, and transmission.
"Team members from the Weapons Science Directorate contributed with optical materials science expertise; Systems Simulation and Development Directorate personnel performed specific missile simulations to support the dome program and prove different manufacturing methods would not interfere with performance," Haynes said.
Their work addressed all aspects of the entire life cycle of the missile dome and achieved significant engineering results and cost savings.
"The team incorporated applied physics, chemistry, materials science, and manufacturing engineering to derive state of the art processes for growing and finishing zinc sulfide material that is stronger, safer, more efficient, and affordable.
"Together, our efforts produced a 25% yield improvement, 65% lead time improvement, 45% strength enhancement, and 65% cost reduction overall," Haynes said.
Applications for this technology include the Joint Air to Ground Missile, the Small Diameter Bomb II, the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, and the Javelin man-portable anti-tank missile.
Ultimately, the benefit to the Warfighter is immeasurable wherever they may be deployed.
"For missiles that use zinc sulfide, higher level kill ratios can now be obtained due to the elimination of ZnS abrasion, and achieve better performance in rain and snow environments," he said.
Founded in 2002, the National Center for Advanced Technologies is a non-profit research and education foundation established to provide a bridge between government, industry and academia, and to encourage cooperative efforts on technology development.