Moulding of High Performance Composites Materials (EN578-170003/19)

Tender Notice


Publishing status


Publication date
Amendment date
Date closing
2019/01/14 14:00 Eastern Standard Time (EST)


Reference number
Solicitation number
Region of opportunity
Region of delivery
Notice type
Request for Proposal (RFP)
Trade agreement
  • None
Tendering procedure
Solely Canadian content
Procurement entity
Public Works and Government Services Canada
End user entity
Public Works and Government Services Canada

Contact Information

Contact name
Secrétariat de Solutions Innovatrices Canada / Innovative Solutions Canada Secretariat
Contact email
Contact address
10 Wellington
Gatineau  QC
K1A 0S5

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This Challenge Notice is issued under the Innovative Solutions Canada Program Call for Proposals 002 (EN578-170003/C).

Please refer to the Solicitation Documents which contain the process for submitting a proposal.

Steps to apply:

Step 1: read this challenge

Step 2: read the Call for Proposals

Step 3: propose your solution

CHALLENGE TITLE: Moulding of High Performance Composites Materials

CHALLENGE SPONSOR: National Research Council (NRC)



Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

The maximum funding available for any Phase 1 Contract resulting from this Challenge is $150,000.00 CAD (plus tax) including shipping, travel and living expenses, as applicable, for up to 6 months.

The maximum funding available for any Phase 2 Contract resulting from this Challenge is $500,000.00 CAD (plus tax) including shipping, travel and living expenses, as applicable, for up to 2 years. Only eligible businesses that have completed Phase 1 could be considered for Phase 2.

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to contract for the total approximate funding.

TRAVEL:  For Phase 1 it is anticipated that two meetings will require the successful bidder(s) to travel to the location identified below:

Kick-off meeting: Montreal, Quebec

Final Review Meeting: Montreal, Quebec

All other communications should take place by telephone or videoconference.

Problem Summary Statement

The aim of the challenge is to develop a technology for moulding Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) composite materials into complex geometry parts featuring double curvatures.

Problem Statement

The NRC provides R&D services to the Canadian defense industry; it is conducting studies that will provide data to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE), but is lacking tools that can apply uniform pressure on complex geometry parts featuring near-vertical walls, and for testing different material solutions. The newest generations of lightweight, high performance composites materials, developed for ballistic protection applications are made from UHMWPE. These materials are very difficult to mould, especially into small objects involving complex geometries featuring double curvatures (ex. a hemisphere). These materials also require extremely high moulding pressures, and a very tight and accurate temperature control.

This challenge seeks a modular tool for moulding small parts made with UHMWPE-based composite materials, such as a helmet shell for a soldier (which is almost spherical), allowing for a precise control of the manufacturing process over a wide spectrum of pressures and temperatures, which can be reconfigured at minimum cost to support the industry in the development of specific applications. The generic tool sought in this challenge used in conjunction with NRC’s high tonnage press, would allow NRC to study UHMWPE molding conditions, including pressure and temperature.

Desired outcomes and Considerations

The desired outcome is the development of a generic tool/tooling platform capable of moulding, using the newest generation of ballistic protection UHMWPE-based composites, personal protection equipment about the size of, and similar in shape to a military helmet (e.g. ACH Gen 2), under various controlled conditions of pressure and temperature.

Essential Outcomes

Proposed solutions must:

1. Allow moulding at different pressure and temperature conditions.

a. Temperature range: 25 Degrees Celcius to 150 degrees Celsius

b. Pressure range: 0 to 12 000 psi (pound-per-square-inch)/0 to 83 MPa (Megapascal)

2. Allow accurate temperature control over the entire surface of the tool (±2°C). Temperature must remain constant and uniform over the entire mould surface and during the entire moulding cycle.

3. Allow to apply uniform pressure on the material up to 12 000 psi. Pressure must be uniform over the entire surface, with a maximum deviation of 10%, even on near-vertical walls.

4. Be usable with a standard vertical compression moulding press.

5. Allow moulding family of parts of different thicknesses (i.e. same geometry, but thickness varies). Thickness to vary between 5 and 15 mm.

6. Withstand 500 moulding cycles before routine maintenance and overhaul is required.

7. Be certified according to all relevant Canadian safety standards, such as CSA if any electrical system is included.

Additional Outcomes

1. Ideally, the pressure buildup should result mostly from closing a matched-die tool (i.e. die forced into a cavity), but the assistance of other pressurization means would be acceptable.

Background and Context

The NRC, through its Security Materials Technologies (SMT) program, has the mandate to support the Canadian Defense Industry and foster innovation.

Personal protection equipment (PPE) such as helmets or ballistic inserts used by the military or police corps represents major market opportunities for the Canadian defence industry. Since 2000, NRC has developed significant expertise in the fabrication of aramid-based composite helmets. In recent years though, high-end personal protection equipment is being made from the newest high performance UHMWPE-based composites. These new materials offer unmatched ballistic protection at extremely low weight but they are cardboard-like and difficult to work with. They also require extremely high moulding pressures, and a very tight and accurate temperature control. Manufacturing PPE components using these UHMWPE-based materials requires large tonnage presses and expensive metallic tools. The large initial capital investment needed for industry to adopt these new materials has been a major barrier.

NRC has conducted some studies with UHMWPE-based materials; however the high moulding pressure and accurate temperature control required by these new materials currently preclude NRC from working at the component or system level, i.e. what is most relevant for industry. A generic, modular tool, would thus allow NRC to conduct studies to develop new PPE solutions, offer industry a full development platform to test different concepts, optimize designs and fabricate prototypes.

The generic, modular tool, developed during the challenge will allow the applicant to gain highly sought-after expertise in designing tools for moulding the latest generation of UHMWPE-based composites into complex geometries. This will allow the applicant (and Canada) to become a worldwide leader in the moulding UHMWPE-based composites for personal protective equipment, but also in other areas such as vehicle armour and spacecraft protection.


All enquiries must be submitted in writing to no later than ten calendar days before the Challenge Notice closing date. Enquiries received after that time may not be answered.

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