InteSpring and Fiberneering are ‘supporting’ our troops

Written by Jasper Bouwmeester

2nd April 2020

Solid equipment obviously is essential to guarantee the safety and performance of military personel. However the amount and therefore the weight of the kits has increased considerably over the last century. On certain missions the troops are carying over 60kg’s of equipment. Despite the fact that better and sturdier equipment offers many benefits, the increase of all this weight can have it’s toll. The added weight can increase wear and tear of joints and increases the chance of injuries. Even minor injuries or pain has a negative impact on the ability to concentrate and to assess a certain situation, possibly jeopardizing a mission.

Exobuddy: from “Heavy load” to “Light weight”

In order to increase the safety and performance of military personel DEC M&U, TNO and InteSpring have taken on the ‘weight challenge’ which led to the development of the Exobuddy. Fiberneering was involved to optimize the Exobuddy in terms of weight and manufacturing methods. The Exobuddy is a patented exoskeleton for the military which operates by converting a foreward movement of the soldier into a vertical supporting force, making a heavy load light weight. During the walking cycle the Exobuddy can take over 80% of the carying load resulting in fewer injuries, pain and increased efficiency. A unique feature of the Exobuddy is that no batteries or motors are used.

3D-Printing a product such as the Exobuddy has some clear advantages:

Costs and Time to Market

With conventional manufacturing methods producing complex geometry combined with many integrated components such as in this upper leg would result in much engineering for various production steps, thus a costly development phase and long lead-times. With 3D-printing one can quickly produuce a fully functional product while development costs and lead-times are kept to a minimum.

Weight

A very significant, but much less highlighted benefit, of 3D-printing is that additive manufacturing makes it economically possible to engineer lightweight constructions by optimizing the cores (topology optimization). When combining these optimized structures with ‘conventional laminates’ such as carbon-, aramid- or glass fiber this results in very stiff and strong components.

Onderdeel van exobuddy

The light weight exoskeleton consists of a carbonfiber reinforced printed core

Complexity

3D-printing virtually offers unlimited and unparalleled possibilities in terms of complexity of geometry. Cavities for electronic components, sensors and ducting can be 3d-printed all at once reducing postproduction, (assembly)costs and weight.

Geprinte kernen voor Intespring

By smart use of 3d-printing the total amount of components is minimized

Sustainability

Because, in contrary to machining methods such as cnc milling, no material is subtracted but instead is being ‘added’ (hence the term additive manufacturing) the material is being used optimally. The composites and resins resistance against environmental influences, (UV)aging and temperature changes guarantee that products last longer and need to be replaced less often.

Developments costs

Due to the fact that 3D-printing techniques are ultimately suitable for client specific applications and tailor made solutions it is fairly straight forward to produce different iterations of the Exobuddy at the same costs.

At the moment of writing the Exobuddy is in it’s final testing phase and will be commercially available by 2020.

Exobudy compleet

First prototype for extensive field testing

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Since founded in 2006 InteSpring is focussed on Gravity compensation, or compensating gravity by employing smart mechanisms and efficiënt energy storage.
Since 2014 the mission of Fiberneering is producing strong, light weight and durable fiber reinforced products by additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing.

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