Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New, Improved Kevlar Promises Stronger, Lighter Vests

DuPont scientists have reportedly developed a new, stronger version of kevlar:
NEW YORK (Associated Press) - New Kevlar technology will allow the production of body armor that provides better bullet-stopping power at a lighter weight, the DuPont Co. said Monday.

Using a new woven fabric technology, coupled with a new coating process, DuPont said it has found a way to deliver improved ballistic performance using its existing Kevlar aramid fiber.

"The bottom line is that it stops bullets faster," said Dale Outhous, global business director for DuPont's personal protection unit

According to DuPont, Kevlar XP can stop bullets within the first three layers of an 11-layer body armor vest, allowing the remaining layers to absorb the energy of a bullet. Outhous said a typical vest in use now would have 20 to 40 layers of material, with a minimum of nine layers needed to stop the bullet.

In addition to better penetration protection, the new technology also better dissipates the energy from a bullet, resulting in less blunt force trauma to the wearer from what is called "backface deformation" of a vest, DuPont said. Such trauma typically consists of bruising and minor rib fractures, according to Dr. Deborah Stein of the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
Backface deformation can still cause serious injury, depending on where the bullet strikes the wearer's vest. Of course, it's still better than bullet penetration. Vest manufacturers have typically used improvements in ballistic materials to reduce the weight and thickness of the vest in an effort to enhance wearability. The stronger ballistic material allows the lighter, thinner vest to still meet National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards for ballistic protection.

For those considering purchasing a bullet-resistant vest, NLECTC, the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, maintains a searchable database of products that have passed NLECTC testing to the NIJ 2005 Interim Requirements for Bullet-Resistant Body Armor here.

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