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Printed metal lattice armor
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3D printed metal lattice armor panels after blast testing
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Scanning electron microscope image of 3D printed metal armor panel lattice structure
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One of the 3D metal printers utilized at the Quad City Manufacturing Lab
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Western Illinois University’s School of Engineering and QCML awarded $1.5 million

August 25, 2020

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - Western Illinois University's School of Engineering and the Quad City Manufacturing Lab were awarded $1.5 million to support a ballistic research program with Army Research Lab and the University of North Texas.

For the Quad City Manufacturing Lab (QCML), a unit of Western Illinois University's School of Engineering located at the Rock Island Arsenal, this will allow for building upon research from previous years and add substantial research and development capabilities to the QCML. Funding will be used to acquire equipment to develop and synthesize customized alloys for metal additive manufacturing, which will be utilized in a new state-of-the-art powder bed metal 3D printing system.

A complete retrofit of control systems and detectors within an existing scanning electron microscope will provide advanced analytical capabilities that are needed to characterize the microstructure and composition of 3D printed components in order to develop optimum 3D printing parameters for the newly developed alloys. The new alloys will be used to fabricate and test novel armor panel designs to create light-weight protection systems that will improve soldier and vehicle protection, which will reduce the burden on the warfighter, and ensure success in future U.S. Army applications.

Students in the WIU School of Engineering can apply for internships to gain hands-on research experience in this program.

For more information on Western's School of Engineering, visit For more information on the QCML, contact Interim Director Eric Faierson at or (309) 788-2089.

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