Military Applications for Cardboard Tubes

August 17th, 2011

Since 1979, Custom Paper Tubes has earned a reputation as an industry leader manufacturing custom cardboard tube packaging and related products for a diverse range of markets ranging from gourmet food and cosmetics to disposable cardboard mouthpieces and bee nesting tubes.  The versatility and custom manufacturing capabilities that have won over many of our “traditional, retail oriented” packaging customers are the same qualities that initially attracted the attention of design engineers at the U.S. Army.  This post describes cardboard tubes developed in conjunction with the military to prepare U.S. troops for deployment and to protect soldiers while in harm’s way.

Cardboard RKG with Telescoping Design

Cardboard RKG with Telescoping Design

RKG’s (Ruchnaya Kumulyativnaya Granata) are hand delivered versions of the more familiar RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade), which is widely known as an anti-tank weapon. The U.S. Army needed a non-lethal, multiple use version of the RKG for training purposes.  Initially, the Army utilized wooden RKG’s which were heavier, more expensive to produce, and potentially dangerous when dropped from overhead during training exercises.  The drawbacks of this first generation RKG trainer prompted Army brass to seek a safer, more cost effective alternative.

Army officials turned first to stock paper tubes as a substitute but quickly realized only a custom solution could meet their specific needs.  After reviewing the custom capabilities described on our website, Army engineers determined that Custom Paper Tubes could manufacture a realistic training device to meet their specifications.  We produced several prototypes during the initial design phase, using telescoping paper tubes with precise wall thicknesses, diameters, and a proper outer wrap.

Once the approved design entered production, we began supplying the outer body parts which would be filled with clay for realistic weight and feel. The RKG simulators were then fitted with a small parachute and paint marking device to indicate a “Hit” when used in training.   Although Custom Paper Tubes designed parts have been used to train US military personnel, American soldiers also rely on parts developed by Custom Paper Tubes while deployed overseas.  Our involvement in the development of non-lethal ordinance illustrates yet another chapter in our partnership with the U.S. Army.

The Army identified Non Lethal Sting Ball and Flash Bang grenades as the answer for crowd control situations where crowd deterrence was required without lethal force.  Army officials contacted Custom Paper Tubes for assistance developing grenades that could withstand the pressures of being fired from weapons at high velocity and still avoid producing lethal fragmentation when delivered for effect. Custom designed cardboard tubes were the solution. Custom Paper Tubes worked for several months and manufactured several prototype designs to perfect both the M99 “Sting Ball” and the M98 “Flash Bang” grenades.

Cardboard Tubes Containing Non-Lethal Ordinance

Cardboard Tubes Containing Non-Lethal Ordinance

Both the M99 and M98 presented a number of design challenges during the prototyping stage.  Because Army specifications called for both styles of grenades to be fired from a specialized grenade launcher, the cardboard tubes containing the non-lethal ordinance needed a high degree of structural stability while maintaining precise tolerances.  The charges would be subjected to rapid acceleration and could potentially come in contact with hard surfaces such as concrete pavement during deployment.  As a result, much attention was given to developing a cardboard tube with rigid walls that would not collapse or give way during delivery.  The use of high tech Army specified epoxy adhesives, as well as plastic caps on both ends provided added rigidity to the cardboard tubes and ensured that each canister could withstand multiples impacts without failing.  Length, O.D., and weight tolerances were also critical due to the size of the device used to launch the grenades.  Engineers at Custom Paper Tubes worked along side Army officials to produce finished products that adhered to all military specifications.  Both grenades are currently in use today by our combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to protect the lives of our soldiers and to minimize civilian casualties.

Military applications for cardboard tubes come with demanding specifications, and field failures for products such as the M99 and M98 can have dire consequences.  As a result, the U.S. military is only willing to partner with vendors committed to high standards of excellence.  Custom Paper Tube’s design, prototyping, and manufacturing capabilities earned the trust of the U.S. Army, and we welcome your quote as well.  To learn more, or to discuss a military application, contact Custom Paper Tubes today.