Available Technology

K-9 Training Aids for Explosives by Additive Manufacturing

Use of dogs (K-9s) are one of the best methods for detecting explosives. To affectively use dogs, scent training is required to recognize targets routinely. The effectiveness of the ability to detect derives directly from training. Training aids (materials that resemble explosives) are key to this. Dogs are trained on objects that have low concentrations of explosives, called training aids. These aids must be high fidelity and not have volatile contaminants because K-9s are easily trained improperly on contaminants. K-9 training aids for explosives are commercially available but there are few real manufacturers. Although the training aids are not considered hazardous materials, production is limited to few that can handle and manipulate raw explosive materials. Because of the nature of the production of the aids, they come in limited forms and shapes (mostly powders or pastes). They are generally mixed with inert substances but the selection is limited because of manufacturing methods, volatiles and interferents from the matrix. Additive manufacturing is a recently developed approach to making materials that differs from other synthesis methods such as mixing and curing, melt casting, and pressing. The technique allows production of objects with unique properties. Objects are formed by layering slurries that have modified flow properties. The technique has great flexibility to produce objects in wide variety of shapes, sizes and compositions that have not previous been accessible. Recently, technical developments have been made that allow the printing of high concentrations of explosives mixed with matrices. This technology now has been applied to producing K-9 training aids for explosives to overcome the issues of currently available training aids—target explosives are limited, substrates to hold the explosives are limited, shape variation of the aids is highly limited. Type of traditional explosive can be addressed (PETN, RDX, TNT, etc.), but also improvised explosives formulations (oxidizer and fuel) can be made because layered structures (by way of AM methods) keep oxidizer and fuels separate but in the same part (without reaction). Construction of any shape or size (dog bone to cell phone case or bigger) is also possible. Wide variety of matrices available (more realistic for training)—essentially anything that can be printed by AM methodology. As with traditional methods, the aids are made safe to transport and handle as non-hazardous materials.
Patent Abstract: 
This technology uses AM printing methods applied to explosives materials. But unlike producing explosives parts, the explosive component is added at a low concentration of around 4 to 6 wt.
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
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