Uptown Greenville, NC


DSM Dyneema Develops Two Materials for Use by Military

By K.J. Williams
The Daily Reflector

Greenville, NC (May 1, 2012) - DSM Dyneema announced Monday that is has developed two new materials, one that will be used in helmets to provide better combat protection for Army personnel and Marines, and a ballistic “tape” with the flexibility to boost the armored protection level of other products.

A new manufacturing facility at the Greenville site will be operating by the fourth quarter to manufacture the structural, ballistic tape, Randy McGowan, vice president of manufacturing and site director for DSM Dyneema, said at a news conference.

“We’ve been growing our workforce again,” he said. “We’ve been able to maintain our employment and ramp up appropriately to meet the demand that we have now.”

“This tape will be used in life-saving applications: vests, inserts (plates), vehicle protection,” said Kenneth Dooley, senior vice president of DSM Dyneema, Life Protection Americas.

He later added that civilian applications also are being examined.

McGowan noted that DSM has invested more than $250 million in its facilities in the 11 years it’s been in Greenville.

“And over the last four years we’ve been through a lot of turmoil economically around the globe, and we’ve not only maintained our employment here, we’ve actually grown our employment here in Greenville,” McGowan said.

Dyneema manufactures protective material used for vests worn by the military and law enforcement. It also makes panels for military vehicles to provide more protection with less weight. Now it’s a supplier for a helmet material that can withstand a greater threat than its predecessors.

California-based Ceradyne Inc. was awarded an initial federal contract in March for about 240,000 of the enhanced combat helmets that will be manufactured using Dyneema’s new HB80 unidirectional composite, an advanced material for shielding against ballistics, Dooley said.

“We were given the challenge three to four years ago to come up with a higher-performing grade that would provide better protection, better protection for the head. We came up with HB80,” he said. “HB80 is one of the highest-performing products out there, and Ceradyne, a manufacturer of helmets, was able to take HB80 and develop a helmet that meets all of the tough requirements for the enhanced combat helmet.”

According to the Ceradyne website, its latest helmet has the ability to stop rifle bullets.

Dooley said that Dyneema is the strongest fiber made and, even though it’s 15 times stronger than steel, it’s light. It’s not just for protection; it’s also used for fishing line and other marine applications, in protective textiles and in medical applications.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents the 1st District, said the enhanced combat helmet provides more lightweight protection to the military.

“It also decreases the weight that these war fighters have to bear each day. This is truly remarkable and I applaud your hard work,” he said to employees. “State-of-the-art products like the enhanced combat helmet are things that our military must have in the 21st century.”

Butterfield also lauded the helmet as an example of a successful partnership between the public and private sectors.

“As we begin to try to balance the federal budget, we’ve got to depend on more public-private partnerships,” he said. “That’s very important, and it’s the wave of the future.”.

Afterward, Scott Poag, existing industries coordinator of the Pitt County Development Commission, said, “It’s great to see this contract awarded to DSM Dyneema and see this technology applied in a way that will help protect the men and women who will help protect us.”

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said the contract demonstrates the dynamic of DSM.

“They’re on the cutting edge of technology, and they’re investing in our community,” Thomas said.

The Greenville facility which also houses DSM Pharmaceuticals, employs about 1,500 people and is the largest industrial employer in Pitt County. It also is the largest North American facility of the Netherlands-based life sciences and material sciences company.

Contact K.J. Williams at kwilliams@reflector.com or 252-329-9588