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With $14.5M Army grant, Rowan University leads team developing military equipment

By MACKENZIE FITCHETT | NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J. | Published: August 21, 2019

GLASSBORO, N.J. (Tribune News Service) — Rowan University has received a $14.5 million grant from the Department of Defense Army Research Laboratory to develop a new way to produce new plastics that could better equip — and protect — those serving in the military.

The grant, announced Wednesday at the university’s Glassboro campus, is the largest Rowan has ever received.

It will help the university, in partnership with PPG, Drexel University, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, develop materials through an additive manufacturing technique called "cold-spray.”

Rather than, for example, making body armor by shaping chunks of raw polymers, a cold-spray technique would create the armor by adhering particles together at supersonic speeds.

The research is being led by Rowan chemical engineering professor Joe Stanzione.

“Most of manufacturing has been subtractive process,” Stanzione said. “Cold-spray is different because it is an additive manufacturing process. We are actually putting layer by layer the particles together and building it up as opposed to subtracting it.”

The grant will allow researches to adapt this technique to be used to make plastics and composite material.

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the grant will help create materials the military needs. “This makes America stronger each and every day," Norcross said. “That’s what this is about.”

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U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory is hoping the research will result in military equipment that is stronger, lighter and more durable, according to those at the announcement.

“At Rowan, we are seeking to move cold-spray to different application realms," Stanzione said. "Additionally, this type of manufacturing process allows us to then look at parts for civilian use as well.

“We can go into the automobile sector, the aviation sector, as well as into biomedical application.”

The South Jersey Technology at Rowan University will be the home of the new Cold-Spray Manufacturing Research Lab while the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering will house other labs dedicated to the same research. A group of about 35 Rowan students will be working in these facilities and assisting with research.

“This has been in the works for three to four years," said Rowan University President Ali Houshmand. "You have to get to know partners, talk to the Congress and you have to convince them that what you have is valuable and it would be a good investment.”

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