DSM Dyneema today announced that its Dyneema HB80 unidirectional (UD) composite, one of the highest ballistic performance UD materials on the market today, played a critical role in Ceradyne’s successful development of the new Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) for the US Marine Corps and Army.

Ceradyne chose Dyneema HB80 to provide the highest level of ballistic protection for the ECH. Compared to the existing Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), which is made with aramid fibers, the new ECH with Dyneema HB80 provides protection and exceeds the ECH program requirement for better fragmentation performance than ACH, all without increasing helmet weight. HB80 is also the only material that passes the stringent ECH testing.

All ECH helmets will be manufactured by Ceradyne at its site in Irvine, California, US, Dyneema HB80 composite is produced in the US at DSM Dyneema’s Greenville, North Carolina, US, facility.

Chief scientist of soldier protective and individual equipment, PEO Soldier, in the US Army, Dr James Zheng, said: "The ECH program represents a major advance in helmet technology that can deliver enhanced superior protection for our troops. Our close collaboration with leading industry partners such as Ceradyne and DSM Dyneema enabled us to utilise their valuable technological expertise and support, resulting in the new ECH helmet."

Vice president of marketing and sales for DSM Dyneema, Shitij Chabba, said: "The ECH program exemplifies the importance of DSM Dyneema’s continuing leadership in materials science and our commitment to innovation to meet the ever-higher requirements for personal protection."

"Clearly a step-change in materials technology, Dyneema HB80 has achieved a major breakthrough by providing exceptional performance without increasing the helmet’s weight. We are extremely proud of our contributions to the success of our customer, Ceradyne, in helping the U.S. Marine Corps and Army reach this critically important milestone," Chabba added.

Dyneema HB80 has undergone extensive ballistic and secondary properties testing as part of the ECH development initiative and provides excellent ballistic and structural properties. HB80 also presents armor manufacturers with opportunities to reduce the weight of ballistic inserts and shields that protect against high-speed fragments and rifle rounds.

As one of the highest performing UD materials, it also provides excellent multi-hit performance and can easily be used in combination with ceramics and steel for protection against higher threats such as explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In addition to personal protection applications, Dyneema HB80 is currently being used for high-end vehicle armor applications where lightweight and ultra-high armour performance are essential; it is the premier material technology solution for the highest possible protection at the lightest weight in armor applications.

Ceradyne’s vice president and president of North America Operations, David Reed, said: "We are very pleased to have received the initial ECH award and look forward to the important role we will play in the manufacture of the new high-performance ECH. Capitalising on the outstanding properties of the HB80 UD composite, Ceradyne has made a quantum leap forward in giving our Marines and soldiers leading-edge head protection on the battlefield."

DSM Dyneema continues to make significant investments in the development of exceptionally strong, lightweight materials for a new generation of ballistic threats working closely with customers and end-user partners.