The main objective of this project is to develop an enhanced, melt-pour explosive formulation and warhead system capable of replacing environmentally-objectionable Composition B (a melt-castable mixture of 1,3,5-Trinitro-1,3,5-triazacyclohexane (RDX) and 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT)) from common small military items such as the M67 hand grenade. The new design will not only avoid the use of toxic ingredients/casing materials, but is intended to meet or exceed the lethality and insensitive munition (IM) compliance of the existing Comp B/M67 system.
The approach will focus on the combination of a three-dimensional (3D) printed metal casing design and a non-traditional explosive compound, MTNI (1-methyl-2,4,5-trinitroimidazole), chosen for its stable melt-phase behavior and highly favorable explosive properties; explosive performance data collected to date indicate that MTNI already exceeds Comp B explosive performance prior to formulation, suggesting that significant quantities of desensitizing agents can still be added to enhance processability and IM compliance. The metal casing printing method will be based on Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), whereby a laser is applied to a bed of powdered steel in additive fashion to form metal structures of tailorable strength. The overall project will consist of three phases:
Benefits to the Department of Defense (DoD) are expected to include the development of a simple, environmentally-acceptable, IM-compliant melt-castable option for small munitions which, up to now, has not been forthcoming with available alternatives (e.g. IMX-104). Additionally, this project would demonstrate the utility of SLS-based additive manufacturing methods for warheads, opening the door for applications in numerous other DoD munitions of all sizes.