Not so bulletproof vests

Roamy here.  Five or so years ago, there were several brands of bullet-proof vests that were pulled off the market because of a common material that started losing its strength.  At that same time, I was testing the same material, Zylon, for use in space tethers.  I was finding out what the Justice Department ballistics people had already found out – that Zylon loses strength when exposed to sunlight and also humidity.  Reports were that Zylon was losing 10% to 20% of its original strength, so all the advantages of being lighter weight than Kevlar went right out the window.  I was seeing even more than that with the more intense ultraviolet radiation, simulating space.

No one likes having an expiration date on their bulletproof vest, so the inevitable lawsuits followed and were settled last year and earlier this year.  Space tether studies went on to new materials.  (Lest you think space tethers are a new thing, they actually date back to Gemini 11 in 1966.)

XBrad can correct me on this, but bulletproof vests these days are mostly aramid materials – Kevlar, Nomex, Twaron, and the like.  Next post, I’ll talk about how the development of bulletproof vests led to better shielding for the International Space Station.

7 thoughts on “Not so bulletproof vests”

  1. The army’s current vest, the IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) is constructed of some kind of ballistic materials that provide limited protection from fragmentation and up to 9mm. The real protection comes from the ESAPI plates (Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts) for chest and back, and the ESBI plates (Enhanced Side Ballistic Inserts) for the wearer’s sides. These are ceramic armor plates and armored to 7.62mm.

  2. Also, did you know the Army was at one time considering making Bradleys out of ceramic armor? They actually went so far as to make a prototype.

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