Advanced materials and protection concepts

In mission and weapon-platform development, lighter is always better, with a fresh incentive by the growing need for increased sustainability and reduced ecological impact. With our clients, the national and international MoD’s and defence industries, typically trying to slash their carbon footprint by upwards of 25 per cent, limiting fuel consumption by reducing weight is a natural objective.

TNO has been working on the trade-off between weight and protection level for many years – and will continue to do so for many more to come. With composites, we have demonstrated that the same level of protection can be achieved on a military vehicle whilst yielding a weight reduction of 20 to 30 per cent. Already, TNO was able to demonstrate this with some impressive full-scale testing in 2019.

What do you choose in the trade-off between weight and protection in mission and weapon development?

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Shift towards composites

TNO covers a broad area of research and testing, mostly related to materials and their applications in protective equipment. Traditionally, protective equipment has always been heavy because of its very nature, aiming to stop kinetic threats. In the past such protective equipment was mostly made of metals and ceramics, the latter of which remains an important focus material for TNO. However, in response to an increasing demand for lighter materials, our portfolio is now shifting perceptibly towards composites. These are typically carbon- and glass-fibre thermoset composites, but thermoplastic variations are likely to be considered in the near future.

Products and services

Our activities can be clustered in four categories:

  • additive manufacturing (3D printing)
  • composites
  • ceramics
  • advanced materials, e.g. Meta Materials.

We offer a range of products and services within these categories, including material or concept development. For example, the composite material we developed in-house and patented in 2019. We also carry out product evaluations for national authorities and commercial clients. In the field of additive manufacturing, we provide support in the implementation of this novel production technology in the military maintenance infrastructure and supply chain.

Terminal Ballistics

Another key research area for TNO is terminal ballistics, the physics behind the interaction between a projectile and a protective material. Basically, we investigate how a bullet, for example, reacts on finding a piece of armour in its path. Another challenge is that relating to the availability of materials. The prices of some exotic material compounds can be very high because the base materials are in short supply. 

200 years of collective research and facilities

TNO is a particularly strong player in the field of advanced materials and protection concepts. What makes us strong is our very extensive fundamental knowledge base, represented in a group of experts with combined knowledge and experience gained over some 200 years of collective research. Our comprehensive experimental facilities are unique in Europe. Not only can we conceive and build new concepts, we are also able to test and assess them extensively, indoors or in the field, yielding a higher level of understanding. This combination means that we can act very quickly, solving material-related problems on behalf of our clients in years instead of decades.

Customer focus

Our principal clients in this area range from Ministries of Defence (MoDs) to the defence industries that serve them. We are a trusted partner of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, as well as the MoDs of many of our NATO partners. In the defence industry, our clients include the companies that design and build military vehicles and protective equipment, including ballistic vests and helmets. We also collaborate with material development companies, as well as knowledge and education institutes throughout Europe.

Downloads
Roadmap

Protection, Munitions & Weapons: How to provide optimal Military protection

Armed Forces rely on innovative weapon systems and effective modus of operandi to provide optimal protection of both military personnel and civilians against terrorist attacks, piracy and other threats.... Read more
News

Marja Eijkman new Managing Director Unit Defence, Safety & Security

21 January 2020
We are pleased to announce that Ir. M.J. (Marja) Eijkman (54) will join TNO on 16 April 2020 as Managing Director of the unit Defence, Safety & Security, succeeding Henk Geveke. Mrs Eijkman has broad... Read more
News

NetForce Command: an alternative for command and control in a changing world

12 December 2019
What happens if hierarchical command and control no longer work in the hyper-connective world of tomorrow? Today, at Innovation in Defence in The Hague, one of TNO’s leading research groups presented the... Read more
News

Innovative crisis management solutions assessed in realistic simulation of a flooding scenario in The Netherlands

23 May 2019
On 22nd and 23rd May 2019, five innovative solutions were assessed in a realistic simulation of a flooding scenario in The Hague, The Netherlands. The simulation was part of a two-day tabletop DRIVER+... Read more

Protection, Munitions & Weapons
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Philip van Dongen BSc

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