DuPont has developed its next generation of bullet-resistant Kevlar fiber that’s stronger and lighter than previous versions. Kevlar XP promises to stop .44 Magnum rounds in the first two to three layers of an eleven layer vest, according to DuPont and independent lab tests.
While that’s impressive, DuPont says it can do this with 10 percent less weight and 15 percent less backface deformation which directly translates into less blunt force trauma to vest wearers. While 10% less weight may not sound like much, police officers and soldiers are grateful for a lighter vest, especially when they have to wear tens or even hundreds of pounds of extra gear.
Kevlar XP is more like an evolution, rather than a revolution in DuPont fiber technology because it gains its strength and weight characteristics from a more efficient weaving and coating process, rather than being a completely different material. DuPont has marketed Kevlar for more than three decades and has continuously upgraded and improved the fiber.
In the past decade, DuPont has faced growing competition in the bullet-resistant fiber market from competitors like Allied Signal/Honeywell with Spectra, Akzo Nobel’s Twaron and Toyobo’s Zylon. In some ways those fibers are stronger and lighter than Kevlar, but DuPont is still the 900-pound gorilla in the market because of the almost universally known Kevlar brand.
Zylon is no longer used by bullet-resistant vest manufacturers after tests showed the fibers degrade quickly over time. Back in 2003, the Second Chance Body Armor Company was sued after several vest wearers were killed and injured after being shot. Second Chance recalled all existing vests and went bankrupt.