By Beth Perdue
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Steve Monette Jr. knew there was a middle ground for armor products.
Monette, a Fairhaven native, and his wife founded Incident Controls Systems in New Bedford back in 1995 making ceramic armor parts for the military. The parts were almost half as light as traditional steel-based protection; but they also cost substantially more.
“Steel is very, very heavy — it’s been known to break axles on vehicles, but it’s very cheap,” said Monette, ICS president. “Ceramic armor is very lightweight, upwards of 40 percent lighter than steel, but it costs 300 percent more.”
A middle ground was needed.
“There’s never been an option or an opportunity for an in-between system,” Monette said about the gap between steel and ceramic. “I founded Incident Control Systems on ceramic armor. But while we seemed to get lots of calls from the U.S. military saying, hey we need lightweight armor, then they’d say, so how much is it?”
“I felt that it was really necessary to find something that was a lot better in terms of cost,” he said.
Now Monette and ICS are announcing a brand new patent-pending product, Revolution Armor, that they say provides the lightness and performance of ceramics without its high cost.
ICS released Revolution Armor to vehicle and structural armor markets in late August. A composite material that uses an innovative steel alloy, the product performs like a hard ceramic strike face, but at a lower cost, the company said.
“Simply because of the technology, it allows vehicle managers to use lower cost armor,” said Monette.
In independent laboratory testing, Revolution Armor was shown to defeat typical Light Tactical Vehicle threats at areal densities usually reserved for high cost ceramic-composite armor designs, ICS said in a released statement. The product consistently outperformed Rolled Homogenous Armor and High Hardness Steel, on a pound for pound basis, when tested against AP and non-AP small arms threats, ICS said.
Two years in development, Revolution Armor was introduced to select military markets this year, about three or four months before the official release, according to Monette.
“We showed them this is what you’re using now. This is how much weight you can save,” he said. “Everyone has had outstanding response to it so far.”
In addition to military vehicles, the armor can be used on aircrafts, both fixed wing and rotorcraft such as helicopters, building structures like military outposts, and ballistic shields for law enforcement, Monette said.
Outside the military, uses include the personal armored vehicle, which is seeing strong growth, according to Monette, particularly in South America and Southeast Asia.
Monette sees the product leading to solid growth for ICS.
“We anticipate having a really good growth pattern,” he said. “The market for personal armored vehicles is very strong growth business.”
ICS engineers Revolution Armor at its 10,000-square-foot Nash Road facility then uses a three-dimensional CAD system to demonstrate to customers how the pieces fit onto a vehicle, Monette said. The company then builds prototypes to ship to customers who install them on vehicles.
“We can manufacture enough armor to outfit about 30 vehicles per month,” Monette said about the New Bedford plant.
While the company currently has 13 employees, Monette believes that number will increase.
“I expect to grow that significantly, mostly in the form of manufacturing people,” he said.
September 26, 2011 12:26 PM
By Beth Perdue