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The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) performs fundamental interdisciplinary research in materials and manufacturing science, ensuring, for example, that military tracked vehicles produce low noise, wear well, have improved traction, and reduce damage to road surfaces. Historically, field performance of the rubber tracked products has been poor. When the Abrams M1 Main Battle Tank was introduced in the 1980s, the lifespan of the rubber track pads used was only 900 miles. ARL initiated an effort to develop improved rubber compounds for the trackpads on military tracked vehicles that resulted in a higher performance elastomer based on hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber. This material improved wear distance to more than 2,000 miles.
This elastomer provides outstanding wear properties compared to traditional elastomers. More specifically, the material provides improved resistance to tearing, blow-out, heat aging, chunking and chipping, cutting, and flexural fatigue. In fact, it has up to five times more abrasion resistance than comparable materials like styrene butadiene rubber (SBR). It retains superior mechanical and dynamic properties at high temperatures and is resistant to petroleum-based materials (fuels, oils, detergents) and military decontamination chemicals, e.g., DS-2. In addition, ARL’s rubber has shown resistance to combustion and exhibits a self-extinguishing ability.
Given the improved wear resistance and service life, the patented Army material could benefit many commercial applications such as tracked construction and mining equipment, as a rubber-like coating to prevent industrial metal-on-metal abrasion, and engine belts and mounts.
- Significantly increased wear resistance over other elastomers and rubbers
- Compatible with fabrication techniques known to the industry
- Test data is available for interested parties
- Target markets include large tracked equipment, automotive, industrial
- US Patent 7,737,225 available for express license
- U.S. Army inventors available for consultation