Dyneema® is a leading global ballistic material manufacturer with production facilities in the US, and Netherlands, and technical centers on three continents. Recognized for excellence in UHMWPE materials, the brand has made sustainability one of its top priorities. This culminated in the launch of its high-performance bio-based third-generation UD material, SB301.
BodyArmorNews.com had the pleasure to interview Mr. Dirk Louwers, the Global Marketing Manager, and Mr. Marcelo van de Kamp, the Global Business Director to discuss the company’s practices and their new material.
Dyneema’s Enduring Legacy
In the late 1970s, Dyneema® pioneered the first generation of UHMWPE materials. The founders’ discovery of the process for creating unidirectional PE led to investments in the Netherlands for constructing the first fiber lines. Over the years, Dyneema® focused on achieving low weight and high strength, striving to improve and deliver products following this goal to the market.
Navigating the Transition from DSM to Avient
Recently, Dyneema® underwent a transition from the Dutch company DSM to the American corporation Avient, and the business group that houses the Dyneema® brand is now Avient Protective Materials. Mr. Marcelo van de Kamp says that the transition had minimal impact on the daily operations of Dyneema®, as it had always been an independent unit within DSM. Avient’s entry into the protective industry and DSM’s focus on food and nutrition had driven the shift. Mr. Marcelo van de Kamp notes that the transition has increased Dyneema®’s brand attention, thanks to the new owner whose business strategy aligns seamlessly with theirs. He also notes that being part of Avient ensures a significant presence in the U.S. market, opening up numerous opportunities for the company.
A Leap into Sustainability
Dyneema® steps into the next era of fibers by introducing it’s third-generation UD material. This is a completely bio-based offering tailored for ballistic vests. Dyneema® utilizes a 0–90 construction in unidirectional fabrics. The process starts at polymer level, creating a powder that is then spun into fibers. With their latest soft ballistic grade, Dyneema® SB301, the company achieves a 90% reduction in carbon footprint. This innovative material allows for a 15%-20% performance improvement or a 20% reduction in weight, allowing clients to request a product that fits best within their needs. Dyneema® SB301 has been available in the U.S. since September and made its European debut at Milipol Paris 2023.
Dyneema® is pursuing a fully circular approach, an initiative that has been in progress for some time. The recycling procedure starts with the disassembly of a used end-product, followed by the extraction and shredding of the PE-UD. In a process called pyrolysis, the PE is reverted to its ethylene form, after which the production process starts as usual. This method also eliminates the dependency on bio-based resources. Dyneema® is collaborating with a company establishing a facility that transforms the shredded material back into ethylene. Dyneema® already executed this process twice, but the interviewees indicate that they will implement on a larger scale by 2025.
Meeting Customer Needs and Driving Awareness
Dyneema® supplies its materials to both private and public sectors, including various military organizations and smaller private firms. Mr. Marcelo van de Kamp highlights that many users are unaware of the potential for utilizing bio-based materials or fully recycling products. He explains that presenting the benefits of such changes is essential as most people tend to stick with their usual choices. Mr. Dirk Louwers adds that end-users are not making specific requests for sustainable products yet, as there are currently no requirements in place. However, this is expected to change in the future with shifts towards more sustainable solutions across the defense industry.
Insights into a Career with Dyneema®
In a dive into their careers, Avient employees Mr. Marcelo van de Kamp and Mr. Dirk Louwers shared their journeys.
Mr. Van de Kamp started as an electrical engineer. He progressed through various supply chain roles, then moving to technical marketing and to manufacturing. Ultimately, he discovered his passion within the materials industry. He currently serves as the Global Business Director, Personal Protection for Dyneema® at Avient.
On the other hand, Mr. Dirk Louwers brings a technical and commercial background to his role. He ascended through various roles, starting from supply chain logistics to positions in sourcing and sales. Right now, he serves as the Global Marketing Manager, Personal Protection for Dyneema® at Avient. Here he oversees both commercial and innovation aspects.
As Dyneema® leaps into a greener era for body armor. The launch of Dyneema® SB301, the new bio-based material, proves that protection doesn’t have to come at the Earth’s expense. In its journey from DSM to Avient, Dyneema® sets new standards, forging a legacy of strength, resilience, and eco-consciousness.