HomeBody Armor MaterialsKevlar® EXO™: a New Chapter For DuPont™

Kevlar® EXO™: a New Chapter For DuPont™

Recently, BodyArmorNews.com had the privilege of visiting DuPont’s European Technical Center in Meyrin, Switzerland, one of the most important hubs of research and development for this US company.

Under the guidance of Karim Dirani, Global Marketing Communications Leader at DuPont™, our visit provided a valuable opportunity to explore the latest advancements in ballistic protection.

What is Kevlar® EXO™?

In 2023, DuPont™ introduced Kevlar® EXO™, a groundbreaking new technology platform crafted from a completely new fiber. Launched through the acclaimed “Fits the Body. Frees the Mind.” campaign by MullenLowe U.S., Kevlar® EXO™ has been introduced as “the most significant aramid fiber innovation in over 50 years.”

Although the Kevlar® EXO™ website gives us quite some interesting information about this fiber, we still had some additional questions. We asked the team members to describe in their own words what this new Kevlar® EXO™ innovation entails exactly.

Mr. Boogh, Development Manager Ballistic Protection, promptly responded, stating that “Kevlar® EXO™ represents a comprehensive new technology platform built upon a complete new fiber.” With this innovation, DuPont™ will have the capacity to develop and introduce a wide variety of new protective products in the years ahead. For example while Kevlar® XP and CoreMatrix™ are based on traditional Kevlar® fiber, DuPont™ will introduce Kevlar® EXO™ versions of these materials.

Structurally, Kevlar® EXO™ differs from the original Kevlar®. While the original fiber is a para-aramid material composed of two monomers, Kevlar® EXO™ is a copolymer with an additional monomer. This additional monomer enhances molecular alignment within the fiber, resulting in increased strength compared to traditional Kevlar®.

Therefore, Kevlar® EXO™ signifies more than just a new ballistic fabric; it serves as a fresh starting point for the introduction of a range of new protective materials.

The team unanimously agreed that these are exciting times to be working at DuPont™, given the significant developments underway.

Kevlar® EXO™ Production

For this new material a completely new product line has been setup in DuPont’s manufacturing facility in the Spruance site in Richmond, Virginia. “The facility has a large production capacity and we are successfully ramping up production of Kevlar® EXO™ ”, according to Mr. Boogh.

In collaboration with partners worldwide, DuPont™ remains committed to the production of ballistic fabrics based on Kevlar® EXO™. DuPont™ provides its partners with both the raw materials and comprehensive manufacturing specifications. However, unlike the original Kevlar® fabrics, all finished Kevlar® EXO™-based fabrics will be exclusively available through their commercial channels.

Advantages of Kevlar® EXO™

One of the most significant advantages of Kevlar® EXO™ is its weight reduction of approximately 30% compared to traditional Kevlar®. This results in softer and more flexible armor panels that are also much thinner.

Currently, numerous body armor manufacturers are in the process of developing and testing soft armor panel designs using Kevlar® EXO™ materials to meet the new NIJ 0101.07 standard. It is anticipated that the first NIJ .07 certified models will be available commercially by early 2025.

However, similar to many top-tier NIJ 0101.06 concepts, the lightest soft armor panels for NIJ 0101.07 are likely to be hybrid solutions combining variety of high-performance ballistic materials potentially including both Polyethylene and Aramids.

Research and Development

Inside the DuPont™ test range

The European Technical Center in Meyrin serves as a cornerstone for ballistic innovation and development within DuPont. Equipped with a comprehensive shooting range, the center stands as a testament to cutting-edge research. Additionally, state-of-the-art machinery for weaving soft armor fabric prototypes, autoclaves, and high-pressure molds for prototyping hard armor panels and helmets are readily available to the researchers.

Kevlar® EXO™ sample panel ready for testing

Mr. Hoepffner, Application Development Specialist, emphasizes DuPont’s longstanding collaboration with body armor manufacturers, weavers and end-users to develop new products. Contrasting with the US, the European market for ballistic protection offers a greater diversity of challenges and requirements. Each country often demands tailor-made ballistic solutions to address specific needs. While the .44 Magnum round predominates in US test labs, European counterparts utilize a wider array of ammunition for testing.

For instance, the Dutch Police have developed a unique “orange-tipped” 9mm round known as the 9×19 Action NP (=Netherlands Police). Consequently, it’s imperative that their body armor is rigorously tested to withstand this special round, as scenarios where a law enforcement officer’s firearm may be compromised can always occur.

Measuring Flexibility

During our visit we were also introduced to an interesting new project that involves the measurement of body armor comfort and mobility.

Edge Pressure test | DuPont
Edge Pressure test | DuPont™

Feedback from wear trials and customers enabled DuPont™ researchers to identify key pain points and mobility constraints. In order to scientifically measure these issues, three unique testing procedures have been developed, in such a way that they replicate body bending and body movement to assess mobility constraint and panel edge pressure testing.

Our ultimate aim is for the results of wear trial comfort aspects to be predictable through these test procedures,

Mr. Djololian, Global Market Development Leader, expressed.

Lower Costal Bending test | DuPont
Lower Costal Bending test | DuPont™

There is a unanimous agreement that introducing a testing standard for measuring soft armor panel flexibility could be a positive development for the entire industry. Our collective objective is to design products that offer comfort and safety for all end-users thanks to innovative fibers, structures, and eventually more flexible solutions.

 

Double Curvature Compression test | Dupont
Double Curvature Compression test | Dupont™

Mr. Djololian also shared that the developed test procedures have garnered positive feedback from the whole value chain, from material suppliers to end-users. He highlighted that DuPont™ is actively engaging with the Hohenstein test lab for textiles to advance towards establishing a universal and independent industry test method.

Eurosatory 2024

Mr. Hoepffner emphasized that Kevlar® EXO™ is now commercially available, inviting both body armor manufacturers and end-users to request sample materials for testing. Furthermore, an excellent opportunity to explore Kevlar® EXO™ and its capabilities awaits at the Eurosatory 2024 exhibition in Paris. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the DuPont™ booth H319 in Hall 5A. Eurosatory will be held from June 17 to 21.

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