Advanced Materials & Manufacturing

Design Optimization of Combat Vehicle Drivers Seat - Using Additive Manufacturing and Compression Molding

by Robert J. Hart; J. Scott Perkins; Brina Blinzler; Patrick Miller; Yang Shen; Ankit Deo


This paper focuses on the application of a novel Additive Molding™ process in the design optimization of a combat vehicle driver’s seat structure. Additive Molding™ is a novel manufacturing process that combines three-dimensional design flexibility of additive manufacturing with a high-volume production rate compression molding process. By combining the lightweighting benefits of topology optimization with the high strength and stiffness of tailored continuous carbon fiber reinforcements, the result is an optimized structure that is lighter than both topology-optimized metal additive manufacturing and traditional composites manufacturing. In this work, a combat vehicle driver's seatback structure was optimized to evaluate the weight savings when converting the design from a baseline aluminum seat structure to a carbon fiber / polycarbonate structure. The design was optimized to account for mobility loads and a 95-percentile male soldier, and the result was a reduction in weight from 18 to 3.6 pounds, which was an 80% weight savings. One critical design feature identified in the seatback was the location where the seatbelt loop attached to the seat structure. This novel manufacturing process enabled the optimized design to utilized fibers oriented around the attachment points, which is not possible in traditional composites manufacturing. A subscale bracket was manufactured and experimentally tested to simulate the performance of the carbon fiber / polycarbonate material in the location of the seatbelt loop.