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The U.S. Army selected a new body armor system, the Generation II Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS), to provide ballistic protection to soldiers operating in harm’s way. The SPCS, designed by Point Blank Enterprises, incorporates Dyneema Force Multiplier Technology to achieve proven ballistic protection and weight reduction up to 30 percent, creating the lightest soft armor system ever to be fielded to the U.S. Army.
DSM Dyneema manufactures ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber (Dyneema) using breakthroughs in polymer science and uni-directional engineering to achieve the protection of aramid products with less weight and enhanced wearer comfort and mobility. Dyneema is up to 15 times stronger than steel and up to 40 percent stronger than aramid fibers, on a weight-for-weight basis.
In a lab at the University of Delaware, Norman Wagner, along with scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, are using ceramic nanoparticles to make a new type of body protector.
They treat soft body armor with shear-thickening fluid and end up with something that can stop a bullet, a knife or flying shrapnel.
Liquid Armor, the UD trademarked innovation, responds when it is hit or shaken and it’s light and flexible, said Wagner, the Alvin B. and Julia O. Stiles Professor of Chemical Engineering and chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering at UD. Wagner invented the shear thickening fluid technology in collaboration with Eric Wetzel, a scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
“For first responders, you get not only ballistic protection with Liquid Armor, but you also gain this additional stab and puncture protection,” Wagner said. “And the material can do all of this while increasing the vest’s wearability.”
He and his team are also working on a specialty application – a highly flexible and protective glove that could be worn by surgeons and other medical professionals to guard against cuts and needle sticks.
“Puncture is a real issue” in health care, he said.
And they are working with ILC Dover, the space suit manufacturer on other possible applications, Wagner said. Liquid Armor is applied to a flexible fiber. It uses tiny bits of silica and polymers that are suspended in sheer thickening fluid. The sheer thickening fluid hardens instantly when it is hit or shaken. Once the stress stops, the body armor returns to its flexible state.
Wagner is working with the University’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP), and with Barrday, a specialty textile manufacturer, to create new Liquid Armor products.
The specialized material gets stronger under pressure, Wagner said.
Dermal modification is a significant part of evolution, says Ranajay Ghosh, an associate research scientist in the College of Engineering. Almost every organism has something on its skin that provides important survival properties such as protection from predators, camouflaging, thermal regulation, and sensorial functions. In many animals, this evolution has led to the formation of scales.
This is why Ghosh and his colleagues in Northeastern University’s High Performance Materials and Structures Laboratory are looking to the properties of animal scales to help them develop the next generation of armor systems. The lab studies the mechanical behavior and performance of materials and structures, at various scales from nanowires and living cells to ships and buildings.
Led by associate professor Ashkan Vaziri, the lab’s findings were recently published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, being featured on the cover of one of December’s issues. Hamid Ebrahimi, PhD’17, who is pursuing her doctorate in mechanical engineering, was also a co-author.
Ranajay Ghosh holds a 3-D printed model of a fish scale he used in his armor system research.
“The next generation of armor systems are light, perform a lot of functions, and at the same time do not compromise on protection,” Ghosh said, “and nature provides very important information in terms of armor development.”
The research, which is supported by the National Science Foundation and Qatar Foundation, involved examining different strategies for general protective systems that are lightweight and multi-use across industries.
The researchers chose to mimic the properties of fish scales because fish, like a person wearing armor, need a fine balance between mobility and protection, Ghosh explained. Using 3-D printing, the researchers created models of fish scales that were embedded in a soft substrate. Adding these scales caused the soft substrate to stiffen up, a response the researchers found could be achieved rather quickly because of the scales’ size and placement within the substrate.
“This is very different from what people have been working on before, which is focusing on the very nature of the scales themselves, how they will behave, and whether they break easily or not,” he added. “Here, our focus is simply the effect of simple scales and their mutual contact and interaction with the soft substrate.”
Ghosh said the research also identifies that even with pedestrian mechanical properties, nature has developed very complex systems.
In this project, the researchers’ work focused on examining the impact that adding scales would have on the substrate’s elasticity. Having found this makes the substrate stiffer and less penetrable, the next step is determining how this work can help create tougher armor. The lab plans to continue with more advanced testing on fish scales’ protective properties, with the ultimate goal of combining the properties of several different animals’ scales into one armor system. The mobility of snake scales and the optics of butterfly wings are among these intriguing properties the lab hopes to investigate, he said.
“We can synthesize what nature could not do because we have more flexibility with the materials we use,” Ghosh said.
Honda body armor ban
It’s not a secret that the Anti-gun left will do just about anything to stop law-abiding citizens from owning a firearm, including passing laws that make it impossible to defend ourselves from the very real dangers that are out there. But the latest attempt to take away our right to defend ourselves is just bizarre.
This week, Democratic members of Congress put forth a bill to make it a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, for an American citizen to own Type III body armor. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced H.R. 378, The Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, a bill that will “prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians.” The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Danny Davis (D-I.ll).
Honda (pictured above), who has filed multiple bills restricting your right to own a firearm, says this new law is aimed at protecting police from active shooters. But as I pointed out yesterday, police have no legal obligation to protect the American public from harm; so why take away our right to protect ourselves from these same active shooter situations?
“This bill allows law enforcement to respond to active shooting situations more effectively. The bill prohibits the purchase, sale, or possession of military-grade body armor by anyone except certain authorized users, such as first-responders and law enforcement,” he said.
So these same anti-gun politicians, who keep telling us that they want to protect us by banning guns, now want to protect us by banning bulletproof vests; it really doesn’t add up.
Is this Body Armor Bill really meant to stop criminals?
If the goal is to punish criminals, why not make it a crime to use this type of body armor in the commission of a crime? Why take away a law-abiding citizen’s right to defend himself? Much like the gun debate itself, passing another law isn’t going to stop a criminal from committing a crime. All this law does is ensure that law-abiding citizens have one fewer way to protect themselves from these criminals who seek to do us harm. Since the law doesn’t do a thing to go after real criminals, you really have to ask yourself whose side these politicians are on.
While many think the bill will die in the Republican-led Congress, I wouldn’t put my eggs in that basket just yet. Based on how many times these gutless Republicans have caved on important issues in the past, I think it has a very real possibility of eventually passing and becoming law.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by BodyArmorNews.com.
DSM Dyneema receives three ITMA Future Materials 2014 awards for its radical innovation: Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology.
DSM Dyneema announced today that it has won three ITMA Future Materials awards based on its breakthrough Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology platform. Future Materials honored DSM Dyneema, the manufacturer of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) fiber, branded as Dyneema®, and a world leader in life protection materials and high-performance fibers, with awards for Best Innovation – Industrial Textiles; Most Innovative Large Company; and Launch of the Year. The awards were presented to DSM Dyneema’s Yvonne Engelen, vice president marketing and sales, and Shitij Chabba, global segment director life protection, at an awards ceremony in Dresden, Germany, on Nov. 26.
These awards collectively recognize the exceptional innovation and success of the Dyneema® Force Multiplier platform, which was launched in 2013 as the culmination of an intensive, 30-month research and development initiative. As a DSM Dyneema Radical Innovation, Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology is enabling development of textiles for game-changing life protection and industrial applications, including soft body armor, hard materials for helmets, vest inserts and vehicle protection. This platform delivers exceptional ballistic performance and the lightest weight and lowest profile for armor applications.
It’s a great honor to receive multiple recognitions from our industry peers in the inaugural ITMA Future Materials Awards program,
said Chabba. “These diverse awards attest to the versatility of our Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology and to the dramatic ways it is revolutionizing the performance and technical textile industries. They also underscore the importance of ongoing innovation and an entrepreneurial attitude, even within a large company like DSM Dyneema. We look forward to fostering future breakthroughs that can advance the technical textiles industry.”
Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology is a “radical innovation that delivers disruptive, game-changing, breakthrough materials for soft body armor and hard materials for helmets, vest inserts and vehicle armor,” the judges said, explaining why DSM Dyneema won the Future Materials Award for Best Innovation – Industrial Textiles. They also highlighted its “impressive implementation and excellent market take-up potential.”
Discussing the award for Most Innovative Large Company, the judges praised the “very impressive achievement by innovative products, especially the lightweight, flexible and durable protective textiles. In addition, the company even creates a platform to link technicians and product designers to shorten the market journey.”
DSM Dyneema won the Launch of the Year award for Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology because, the judges said, “after a 30-month R&D initiative that yielded dramatic, and potentially game-changing materials for armor, DSM Dyneema devised and implemented a successful four-part launch strategy, that addresses significant market need.”
As publishers of Future Materials magazine, World Textile Information Network (WTiN) launched the Future Materials Awards to reward innovation in the highly competitive technical textiles market.
Members of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade will be the first to test the new female body armor, which was named one of Time Magazine's best inventions of 2012, in Afghanistan.
With female soldiers moving toward more involved combat roles, the Army had to re-think body armor, particularly how to tailor it to the female form.
But that has become the tip of the iceberg: a new deal with a contractor could have a much wider range of applications through a profile of thousands of soldiers’ body types allowing for all kinds of better-fitting gear.
Manhattan start-up Body Labs officially started its $825,000 two-year contract with the Army in September, and along with that will come data and modeling that could better outfit soldiers in the future. On Monday they unveiled a vision for the future, which includes a more scientific, analytic and efficient approach to sizing, starting with body armor.
“Our vision of the future is a soldier walks into basic training, the Army scans you with a body scanner, and you walk out with boots and helmet that fit you really well. Not custom made because that’s too expensive, but that fit really well,” said CEO and founder William O’Farrell. “I think they understand the broader need.”
The contract includes access to scanning capabilities, data and analytic tools that could turn the Small-Medium-Large-XL continuum on its head. Brian Corner, a PhD and research anthropologist for the Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, said in an email to Army Times that a lot of applications and analysis would become possible for the first time.
“Previously, we worked with standing manikins and only one or a few body shapes and sizes. Thus, the work done by Body Labs provides a much richer design and engineering environment,” Corner said. “My opinion, and the Army may have a different opinion, is that the software capability provided by Body Labs will change fundamentally the design and engineering environment.”
While female soldiers have already tested out new armor that adjusts for some differences from men’s body shapes, this technology would further add to options and ways armor — and other gear — can become more comfortable and improve in its performance. Corner said key assumptions include a robust database and a fairly easy way to scan soldiers.
O’Farrell started the company with a trio of other founders from Brown University that include experts in computer science and other systems and other fields in the Max Plank Institute for Intelligent Systems. The company has accumulated a database of about 12,000 soldiers, half of them women, providing 3-D avatars that will give the Army a statistical understanding of the different body types and shapes, including how the body moves and shifts into different positions.
The company started in the last year but some of the group’s research was funded by the Army as far back as 2009.
While the data and more varied body types addressed may increase the number of sizes, O’Farrell said, the more accurate understanding of the Army’s population of body types will help to more comfortably outfit more soldiers with less waste in over-produced sizes.
“Small, medium and large don’t address the 3-D shape of the body. Shapes of sizes will be much more accurate to fit the population that’s targeted,” said O’Farrell, an adjunct business professor at Columbia University.
In addition, Corner acknowledged another possible source of savings: testing new models on a representative, diverse array of body types can earlier catch design problems that might impair movements, among other fit concerns.
O’Farrell said the Army, in particular Natick, will have the ability to make the economic choices on the number of sizes to produce and the design of the vests — and whatever else the Army chooses to use the data to produce.
“The big picture is understanding the geometry of the human body. From there you connect to everything the body touches,” O’Farrell said.