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Polyethylene Bulletproof Vests Better Than Kevlar

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the hard-wear dept.

Science 345

teflonscout writes "When I think of bulletproof vests, the first word that comes to mind is Kevlar. Wired is running a story on Dynema SB61, a bulletproof material that is made of polyethylene. It is a higher grade of the plastic found in Tupperware. The story also mentions the recall of Second Chance bulletproof vests that were made from Zylon, a material that degraded slowly when exposed to moisture. At least one police officer was injured when a bullet penetrated his Zylon vest. Polyethylene is impervious to moisture. The first vests made from this new material are 5mm thick and can stop a 9mm bullet traveling at 1777 feet per second, which is slightly better than other top of the line vests."

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345 comments

Back to the drawing board. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241983)


Dynema SB61, a bulletproof material that is made of polyethylene. It is a higher grade of the plastic found in Tupperware.

There goes my idea for a zip-tie & Tupperware bulletproof vest. It also explains why the prototypes failed in the field.

Re:Back to the drawing board. (2, Insightful)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242101)

it's not really a bad idea to step away from kevlar... of course assuming that it still stops bullets.

my question though, will it weigh less than kevlar? every chunk of kevlar that i've held (my father made vests for a while) was extreamly heavy... I'd say if this substance is lighter and allows for more agility it just might be worth it, but again, let's not jepordize safety for mobility

Re:Back to the drawing board. (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242367)

the density of Kevlar is 1.44, while polyethylene is 66% as dense at around 0.94 to 0.96, will actually float in water.

Re:Back to the drawing board. (4, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242761)

So, it's a "life vest" then? [ilovewavs.com]

Thank you folks. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Re:Back to the drawing board. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242721)

let's not jepordize safety for mobility

In combat, mobility often equals safety. Tank warfare has been dealing with this balance forever, any armore can be penetrated given the right munitions. A soldier likely prefers mobility, since he's likely facing an enemy who can bring big guns to bear (and body armor is never full coverage, so don't give the bad guy time to draw a bead on your head). The local police are more likely to face small arms fire only (there of course are exceptions). But if you can't chase bad huys, they get away to try again.

Also, is this a fabric or a plate? Big difference there too, and 5mm is pretty thick.

Re:Back to the drawing board. (2, Insightful)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242849)

let's not jepordize safety for mobility
Overall saftey is a trade-off of both protection and mobility.

Thanks For The Advice: +1, John McCain (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242941)

I'll get some polyethyl the next time I demonstrate the peace [latimes.com] in Baghdad.

Yours Alzheimersly,
Senator John McCain [therealmccain.com],
former POW, former teenager, former child, and currently a Military Expert

But it won't protect you from goatse! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241997)

Goatse! [goatse.ch]

Re:But it won't protect you from goatse! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242591)

Fuck no! We want Goatshe, not that disgusting abomination!

to bad our troops are treated like shit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242015)

doubt this technology will see iraq, oh and don't flame the truth, thanks

Re:to bad our troops are treated like shit (3, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242161)

"doubt this technology will see iraq, oh and don't flame the truth, thanks"

Yes, don't flame the truth. Rather, flame the complete ignorance of the process by which new technologies trickle down to soldiers from the numerous trials and tests.

If it's good enough, it will eventually be used. The question then will be whether troops will still be in Iraq at that time.

Re:to bad our troops are treated like shit (2, Funny)

phaggood (690955) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242269)

> The question then will be whether troops will still be in Iraq at that time.

And the correct answer to this query is:

wait for it...

Yes.

Re:to bad our troops are treated like shit (4, Interesting)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242419)

If it's good enough, it will eventually be used.


Like the stuff that's good enough that we already have, that to my knowledge, still isn't being used in Iraq?

Maybe it's a few months out of date, but last I heard, the only troops who have bullet resistant body armor over there are the ones who's families bought/shipped it, or got it from an NPO that is buying them and shipping them to the troops.

Re:to bad our troops are treated like shit (3, Insightful)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242521)

Rather, flame the complete ignorance of the process by which new technologies trickle down to soldiers from the numerous trials and tests...If it's good enough, it will eventually be used.

Not quite. There's a lot of good products that should be used, but they aren't because of the almighty dollar. Usually it takes a few dead bodies, the tears of weeping mothers, pointed fingers, and fistfuls of public rage to force the government to supply adequate equipment to its troops. And even then they only supply it because of public image.

Re:too bad our troops are treated like shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242607)

And even then they only supply it because of public image.

And I never realised that John Lydon [wikipedia.org] was that powerful.

Z.

Box Of Truth (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242619)

If I remember correctly, the typical bullet proof vest is not very effective at stopping full metal jacket rifle rounds. I would think that it would help to a degree with IED shrapnel though. Check TheBocOTruth for (correct) details, as my memory may be faulty.

Re:Box Of Truth (3, Informative)

JackStraight (1024643) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242701)

Soft body armor is designed to defeat handgun bullets, which is why it is so useful for police. Hard body armor is much bulkier but is designed to defeat rifle rounds. In general, a rifle round is significantly more powerful than handgun rounds.

Ok.. and temperature change? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242035)

Dragonskin was kicked out of the running due to failures with angled shots and not standing up to temperature variance.

Flexible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242053)

So, is it a hard shell, or a flexible fabric like kevlar?

Not bad... but... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242059)

Or you could just get some Dragon Skin armor that will take the force of an exploding hand grenade and not allow penetration...

http://www.pinnaclearmor.com/body-armor/dragon-ski n.php [pinnaclearmor.com]

Re:Not bad... but... (4, Informative)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242671)

Dragon Skin was recently tested by the Army and found to be deficient in many ways.

Read the whole article. [washingtonpost.com]

Exerpts:

...in 13 of 48 shots, lethal armor-piercing rounds either shattered the discs that make up the armor, or completely penetrated the vest.

...the armor failed to endure required temperatures shifts _ from minus 20 degrees to 120 above zero _ which weakened the adhesive holding the discs together.

Re:Not bad... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242799)

I hadn't read that article... however I'm immediately suspicious of their motives. Counting shots that penetrate the armor in non-protective areas doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. You could shoot holes through standard issue armor all day if you aim where there's no plate. If you're going to test it on equal footing then you need to count the successes and failures of both systems in the same way.

Seems more like the Army trying to save face at the expense of soldiers' protection.

Re:Not bad... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242867)

Dragon Skin is also a lot heavier than the Army-issued "Interceptor." I hope you're not going to question how they measured that as well.

Actually, the army's tests are in dispute (4, Informative)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242877)

Independent tests [msn.com] do not support the army's conclusions. Since there is already some question about the validity of the army's tests (e.g. the designer of the vest that "won" in the army's test says that dragon skin is actually better, the person who conducted the army tests left to work for a dragon skin competitor, etc.) I don't think just repeating the army's conclusions (or quoting the Washington Compost as doing so) really proves anything.

--MarkusQ

Re:Not bad... but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242893)

Dear PC users,

It's no secret iTunes turned to shit as soon as Apple had to start catering to PC users. It was version 4.1, if memory serves, around the time they let you cavedwellers into our music store. The demand for PC compatibility is the major reason iTunes is still a Carbon app, according to insiders, when every other iApp has since been rewritten in Cocoa to behave like a decent Mac application.

Frankly, we think Apple should revoke PC compatibility from the iPod. Only when the last PC user is forced from our platform shall we enjoy freedom, again and at last, from your tasteless, backwards demands.

Love,
Mac users

The Future of Tupperware Parties (1)

fiordhraoi (1097731) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242061)

Personal protection and leftovers. What's not to love?

Seriously, though, this is cool. Hopefully this will be useful for the military as well as police, even if they have to beef it up slightly. It sounds a heck of a lot more comfortable to wear, especially in hot/wet conditions.

Re:The Future of Tupperware Parties (4, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242239)

"especially in hot/wet conditions"

And it really brings a whole new dimension to crotchpot cooking.

Re:The Future of Tupperware Parties (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242735)

Crotchpot?!? Crotchpot, there's a euphemism I haven't heard before. "Oh man, her crotchpot was really cooking!"

Re:The Future of Tupperware Parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242825)

Wow. A new invention or refinement of existing ideas/technologies. I hope we can adapt it to better kill eachother as soon as possible.

impervious to water, how about body heat? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242071)

If it's basically like wearing a big plastic slab, isn't that going to get super hot? I'm assuming after they get a few breathable layers around it, that 5mm balloons to something much less inconspicuous. Still, any new ways to stop bullets reactively are a good thing.

Re:impervious to water, how about body heat? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242337)

Nah, it's not a slab. Wearable bulletproof materials are composed of interwoven fibers (occasionally with heavier armor plates backing 'em up), and if its made into a fabric, it's far more flexible and comfortable than a solid suit.

It's probably still pretty damn hot, and heavier than one would prefer. I'd be interested to see how this performs when coupled with some of the liquid armor [military.com] tech the military has been working on.

Re:impervious to water, how about body heat? (2, Interesting)

starkadder (819862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242627)

I'm sure this is not a slab of plastic. Allied Signal has a very similar product that they've been marketing for years. It is highly oriented HDPE fibers. Think about what happens to a bread bag when you pull real hard on it. The fibers become highly oriented and crystaline -- and very strong. Since the vest is made of layers of fabric woven from these fibers, it is flexible and breathes.

Re:impervious to water, how about body heat? (5, Funny)

Noxx (74567) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242681)

If it's basically like wearing a big plastic slab, isn't that going to get super hot?

That's why you lacquer the chestplates in white to dissipate heat, and give them a black spandex bodysuit underneath...add a scary looking helmet and most of your vitals are covered. In theory it should deflect blaster bolts. Where I'm stationed we wear them all the time (I work in law enforcement).

In practice, they don't stop crap. Like last week this scruffy-looking nutjob with a walking carpet for a sidekick breaks in to rescue his girlfriend. Next thing we know there's a weapons malfunction down in the cell block, and four of my buddies find out the chestplates don't quite work as advertised.

I hate this posting...maybe I can get transferred before something else goes wrong.

- TK421

Re:impervious to water, how about body heat? (5, Informative)

sonoronos (610381) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242839)

This is one of those cases where allegory is truly misleading. The article makes the comparison to shopping bags and tupperware in order to emphasize the "everyday" nature of the material. The truth is that they have similar basic components, but the exact composition and processing differences cause one material to be good at resisting bullets and another at storing food (or selling at parties.) Unlike Tupperware, Dyneema vests are composed of woven and laminated fabric.

Dyneema is actually a trade name for a thread derived from Ultra High Molecular Weight polyethylene. The intrinsic strength of the material comes from the ability to increase the length of the polyethylene chain to extreme lengths. Since the structure of UHMW derives its strength mostly from the intermolecular Van-der Waals forces, the longer the polythethylene chains get, the stronger the forces holding the material together become. When the processing of the polythylene allows the length of the chains to become uniform, then you can engineer it into useful forms, such as a fiber which eventually be formed into fabric, then laminated and put on your chest.

Of course, being UHMW, Dyneema has a weakness: Its melting point is about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or about the temperature of a hot light bulb. Which means that while your body heat might not harm the vest, carelessness in storage might.

I'll trust it ... (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242095)

I'll trust it as soon as the guy who invented it straps on a set, and stands about 20 years in front of me ....

Re:I'll trust it ... (2, Funny)

daivzhavue (176962) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242165)

well, if he is standing 20 years in front of you, I'm sure weapon advancements would nullify any protection it gives today.

Re:I'll trust it ... (5, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242423)

I'll trust it as soon as the guy who invented it straps on a set, and stands about 20 years in front of me ....

If you haven't heard about the history of "second chance" one of the very first commercial vest manufacturers, that is basically how they sold it. Walk into a police station, pull a gun, shoot oneself at point blank. Put the gun, vest, and business card on the front desk and walk out. As I understand they arrested the founder (Richard Davis) for firing a pistol within city limits, and placed a huge order. He eventually had to quit doing it because all the bruises from the gunshots were starting to give him heart problems.

Second Chance (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242647)

I've never heard that story, but I have seen a video clip of Davis doing that. Basically put on a set of the armor, took a little snubby .38, held it out at arm's length, and shot himself in the sternum.

Looked pretty unpleasant -- he immediately fell down, and it took a few seconds before it was clear that he had not, in fact, been shot -- but damned impressive.

Re:Second Chance (3, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242687)

Best part is that most "saves" the vests are credited with are from car accidents, where the vest acted as extra support, etc. for the spine and whatnot....

Re:I'll trust it ... (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242865)

If you haven't heard about the history of "second chance" one of the very first commercial vest manufacturers, that is basically how they sold it. Walk into a police station, pull a gun, shoot oneself at point blank. Put the gun, vest, and business card on the front desk and walk out. As I understand they arrested the founder (Richard Davis) for firing a pistol within city limits, and placed a huge order.
What kind of idiot would walk into a police station and pull a gun? (And what kind of police force would let someone walk out of the building after a stunt like that?)

It sounds like marketing fiction to me.

And new laws to federally prohibit (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242117)

bullets capable of penetrating this new body armor are on the way in

3.... 2....

Guess I'm just cynical.

Re:And new laws to federally prohibit (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242187)

Shooting at a cop is already illegal. If you're going to fire a bullet at a cop, then the legality of the bullets isn't going to stop you.

Re:And new laws to federally prohibit (2, Insightful)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242493)

Regardless, you could take down a police officer if he was wearing inch thick steel plating by just hitting him in the face. Might not be quite as mortal as a shot to the heart, but he is at least out of the fight. Alot of good modern kevlar does against headshots, huh? Not to mention you can do it with any gun and a rock if you throw it hard enough.

Re:And new laws to federally prohibit (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242923)

Dick Cheney notwithstanding, it's harder to shoot someone in the face than in the torso. Smaller target, you know. That's why training for human targets tends to emphasize torso shots.

Re:And new laws to federally prohibit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242215)

All body armor can be penetrated by some round. There are different categories, which are used to indicate what type of round the armor can be expected to stop.

Don't be cynical, be educated.

Re:And new laws to federally prohibit (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242437)

They're already out there. Most high powered rifles are capable of penetrating body armor that isn't backed by plates. They hint at it in the summary...Fast bullets are more of a concern than slow bullets, which is why it's a big deal that this one will stop a 9mm. It still probably won't stop a high powered rifle, which includes common hunting gear, and most assault weapons.

The big deal with this stuff isn't how effective it is...There's not much difference between it and kevlar...But kevlar weighs a hell of a lot more, so this is a lot more fun to wear.

How does it compare (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242119)

It mentions how well it compares on stopping a bullet, but what about other factors like weight, or maneuverability while wearing the vest.

Re:How does it compare (2, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242329)

And more importantly how does it compare with the secondary injuries caused by the impact of the bullet. One of the issues with modern vests is that you can still receive substantial injuries when the vest hits you after the bullet hits it.

Etcetera (1)

packetmon (977047) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242135)

On body armor... Israeli researchers at one company, ApNano Materials Inc. in New York, have shown off a breastplate of nanometals said to be five times as strong as steel. (source source [businessweek.com])

One of the coolest thing I recall seeing - I forget if it was on the Military Channel or Discovery - was body armor made from a material (sorry forgot what it is/was might have been spider silk) that would act as a body of water and ripple off the impact of a bullet to reduce the point of entry thereby leaving the target (person wearing the armor) safe. I personally think we are maybe 10 years away from finding an impenetrable body armor solution. My wonders are, how much will it cost when it does come out. Sadly instead of attempting to assist military and LEO's, the makers will let greed get in the way.

Re:Etcetera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242295)

Sadly instead of attempting to assist military and LEO's, the makers will let greed get in the way.

Let greed get in the way? Exactly who is going to outbid the military? What part of whole weapons industry isn't based around assisting militaries?

Re:Etcetera (1)

minion (162631) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242413)

One of the coolest thing I recall seeing - I forget if it was on the Military Channel or Discovery - was body armor made from a material (sorry forgot what it is/was might have been spider silk) that would act as a body of water and ripple off the impact of a bullet to reduce the point of entry thereby leaving the target (person wearing the armor) safe. I personally think we are maybe 10 years away from finding an impenetrable body armor solution. My wonders are, how much will it cost when it does come out. Sadly instead of attempting to assist military and LEO's, the makers will let greed get in the way.
 
I remember seeing that technology on a Modern Marvels episode on the History Channel.
 
The stuff was a liquid polymer that nano-engineered (gotta love buzz words) that would stay flexible until struck. I forgot the name of that cool phenomenon - a state change from liquid to solid during compression - but either way, the stuff looked really cool. Although its still a lab experiement, they say it should be to market by 2012.

Re:Etcetera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242535)

My wonders are, how much will it cost when it does come out.

How much is your life worth to you, and what's the chance of you losing it to a bullet? There's the demand side value. It will be close to that.

Re:Etcetera (3, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242549)

I personally think we are maybe 10 years away from finding an impenetrable body armor solution
Impenetrable to what?

Most current suits of body armor can stop a pistol caliber bullet. Rounds designed to pierce armor, or designed to be fired from a more powerful gun, are another story. Armor that will stop a small, soft bullet will still be penetrated by a faster, or less malleable one.

For civilian or police protection, we have nearly impenetrable suits now; increasing their coverage, or decreasing their weight would be more practical (both of which can be achieved by making them out of lighter materials). For something like military protection, well, we may never have impenetrable body armor. Whenever defensive technology gets good enough, the military turns their attention to piercing those defenses; see for example the death of the battleship as a viable class of warship.

Apart from that, conservation of momentum applies. There is an upper limit whereby body armor would remain intact, while the flesh beneath is reduced to a pulp. Though admittedly conservation of momentum also applies to the shooter, and to the recoil of their gun, so there is a similar upper limit for muzzle velocity per unit of projectile mass.

How to defeat them... (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242175)

Toss 10-week old spaghetti sauce at the wearer. That protective shit will be in trash before the 9mm bullet even gets to him.

Thanks for the warning (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242185)

It is a higher grade of the plastic found in Tupperware.
Good thing they mentioned this. I had already put a bowl on my head and was about to test it out.

Re:Thanks for the warning (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242387)

"Good thing they mentioned this. I had already put a bowl on my head and was about to test it out."

Mothersbaugh, is that you?

Loved your work on "Rugrats", btw.

Dynema? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242189)

I think maybe they should rethink the name of the material ("Dynema SB61")when/if it goes into production.

I, for one, would rather not have my bulletproof vest sound like it's a cross of high explosives and bowel cleansing kits.

No, Dyneema (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242461)

It's Dyneema, a brand name of the chemicals company DSM for ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibers.

Re:Dynema? (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242767)

I think maybe they should rethink the name of the material ("Dynema SB61")when/if it goes into production.
Dynema (aka Dyneema or Dynex) is an established brand name already, at least in mountaineering. The best [mammut.ch] climbing [mammut.ch] gear [blackdiamo...ipment.com] uses Dynema. 22kN break strength on a light 8mm wide nice and flexible ribbon that hardly gets wet - super stuff.

Tupperware? (2, Funny)

DrivingBear (931124) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242197)

It is a higher grade of the plastic found in Tupperware.
The vest will also keep you fresh for weeks.

Send them to Iraq (0)

jfengel (409917) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242249)

I hear they could use some extra body armor over there. And they'll never, ever, ever be exposed to moisture in the freaking desert.

Re:Send them to Iraq (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242379)

Thats right, wearing tight fitting, heavy clothes in high temperatures makes me feel or sorta cool and refreshed.

tupperware? (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242259)

Yeah...lets just hope they aren't bombarded with microwaves nearby before the wearer gets shot...

Sounds good (0)

tknn (675865) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242273)

Is it cheaper? And more important for my use, is it better than kevlar for my bike tires?

Kitchen now most important room in stockpiled home (2, Funny)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242315)

Tin foil hat... check! Tupperware shirt... check! Zip-lock underwear... check!

"New Material for Thinner, Lighter Body Armor" (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242355)

Why not make it just the same weight so it can withstand massive amounts of punishment? Was the old Kevlar just too heavy to use properly?

Re:"New Material for Thinner, Lighter Body Armor" (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242665)

Why not make it just the same weight so it can withstand massive amounts of punishment? Was the old Kevlar just too heavy to use properly?

1) You are equating weight with stopping power for different materials. That is an incorrect comparison. That might make sense when comparing two vests of the same material and design. Vest A has 10 lbs of Kevlar, Vest B has 20 lbs Kevlar. Both vests are of similar designs and Vest B should be better at stopping bullets. However if another company designed a different type vest (Vest C) with Kevlar that had better stopping power but only used 10 lbs Kevlar, the use of weight alone in comparing effectiveness would not be valid.

2) Body armor is heavy, especially considering all the other gear a soldier has to carry. If body armor was lighter and provided the same amount of protection, many soldiers would prefer it.

Re:"New Material for Thinner, Lighter Body Armor" (5, Insightful)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242773)

Because if you carry less weight in body armor, you carry more weight in ammunition, med supplies, whatever. The protection they have today is generally sufficient for small arms rounds, so they don't usually need more protection. Reducing the weight of current equipment, however, goes a long way toward making your troops more mobile, responsive, and better prepared to face an enemy. Not to mention, it makes them feel better to not lift a 35 pound vest over their head.

I've worn the modern vests, and while they aren't nearly as bad as they were 10 years ago, they still aren't good. If I could get the same protection from something even a quarter less weight, I'd make the switch without a second thought. That two or three extra pounds can mean the difference of being able to march my ass another couple of kilometers to safety or have a few extra rounds of ammunition when I really need it. That's a huge mental advantage, and despite all we say about war, it's the mental aspects (on the soldier) that make it difficult in the long run.

Er, um, not the best (0, Redundant)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242391)

I think thick slabs of polyethylene are impractical. it's uncomfortable and will have you sopping wet with your own perspiration within an hour.

A much better material is "Dragonskin"-- it is flexible and breathes somewhat.

Re:Er, um, not the best (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242631)

I think thick slabs of polyethylene are impractical. it's uncomfortable and will have you sopping wet with your own perspiration within an hour.
Perhaps that is why the polyethylene is being used in the form of a woven fiber fabric rather than "thick slabs".

Nothing is bullet-PROOF. (2, Insightful)

YourMotherCalled (888364) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242405)

The correct term is bullet-resistant.

Re:Nothing is bullet-PROOF. (1)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242625)

Reminds me of a Corner Gas episode.

Something to the effect of:
"Where'd you get the money to buy that tazer?"
"I bought it with the money that I saved from buying these bullet resistant vests."
"Bullet resistant?! The shirt is wrinkle resistant but see this [wrinkles vest] - still gets wrinkles!"

There are bullet-proof materials available (0)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242801)

without prejudice,
M. Gregory Thomas(tm), Network Redundancy Administrator;
Mundt Administration of Network Redundancy:

My experimentation with body-armor is qualified, having secured split/spent Kevlar vests from a good captain that were salvaged from a dumpster of a police-fraternal Order. Kevlar can't deflect the second bullet if it hits in the same place, and any matter of Kevlar to continue into the flesh of a man would be fatal within a week due to infection.

Pick any material that has no compression and find a way to use it as body armor. It was long thought that water has no compression, but recently they found that water becomes combustible when it is electrically charged-negative and put under a vacuum with flame. Clay, or even glass, has almost no compression; the greater difficulty is to support it in such a way that it doesn't crack.

I disclosed an idea with a friend that I wanted to make tempered-glass ball bearings. This was said exaclty one Month ago, because tempered glass would shatter on the smallest pressure on an edge of two meeting faces; so, my question was whether to remove the edge by making it round? Tempered glass is resistant to heat, by keeping it in the glass "oven" longer after it is rolled out; also, the heat-treatment process makes the glass less-brittle, and well resistant to crack on impact: I would entertain an experiment to super-treat the glass into marble-sized ball bearings, even try to fasten it into armor plating. Of'court in the matter to resist a bullet, the worse a bullet could do is absorb all its energy into the impact and cause more damage, while a bullet that moves through a the flesh of a man would do less damage than if it was absorbed into the armor or stopped in the middle of the verry flesh to sit.

Infection kills more men (male or female) than the bullets themselves. If pain was ever measured as a sign of fear, then tempered glass shattered and sitting inside a man would be just as much an interruption by pain if not a good substance that wouldn't cause infection. In all body-armor, the very material that is sewn or assembled around the armor and the armor itself, causes as much death by infection after the surgery as would the bullet to damage the organs and parts in a man.

Still better light-weight armor out there... (1, Redundant)

Techguy666 (759128) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242457)

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/dragon-skin-bul letproof-vest-repels-ak47-rounds-203003.php [gizmodo.com]
Dragon Skin bullet proof vests are light weight but can stop (multiple) armor piercing rounds. That's rather impressive.

They use silver-dollar sized "scales" of ceramics. If it's as light and flexible as advertised, this is far better for soldiers and law enforcement.

Re:Still better light-weight armor out there... (1)

jkiol (1050424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242551)

Out of fear of all the cheap one liners with cops wearing this, we should ban this now.

Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242515)

Back in my time they gave us Vietnam-era flack jackets with lead bars. Being on the water in the USCG these jackets had their downside. =)

Same dynema??? (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242519)

If it's the same dynema used for rock and ice-climbing gear, I'd be worried about it melting. The stuff traditionally has a negative reaction to UV (as most synthetics do) and it melts pretty easily. I'm sure they've figured that out though.

Dunno about the vest... (0)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242635)

But I can think of some potential customers [bbc.co.uk] if reports of this movie ever reaches the Bible Belt in the US. (For those not wanting to read the article, it's a movie about a guy trying to have sex with God. Try to imagine all the possible ways this could get people offended.)

C|Net? or something.. (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242663)

Back in the days of yore (199something), I remember some technology show (C|Net or something), showing off some bulletproof plastic that was gone over with a blowtorch, hit with AK-47s, Axes, Bazookas, etc, for a few minutes (one piece through it all), and eventually 20 minutes (or an hour, or "some non-immediate length of time") later, they eventually got a 15" hole in it through sustained torching while hitting it with an axe.

And then I never heard another thing about it. I assume there's some /reason/ we don't have plastic tanks protecting our troops, but I don't know what that reason is. I have only ever heard it mentioned that one time. I think the concept involved many small force-absorbing layers or something.

or something.

But are they really BETTER? (2, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242717)

The first vests made from this new material are 5mm thick and can stop a 9mm bullet traveling at 1777 feet per second, which is slightly better than other top of the line vests."

Are there any other benefits? Not to underscore the vest's foremost job (stopping bullets) but if there is only a "slight" improvement over existing vests I don't find this all that newsworthy.
  1. Are the vests lighter in weight than these "top of the line" vests we're comparing it to? That would be important for foot soldiers and types that must travel long distances while wearing them, possibly carrying other equipment as well.

  2. Are these vests thinner? This one is 5mm but I don't know how thick a traditional vest is. That would allow better maneuverability while wearing it.

  3. Are these vests cheaper to produce (perhaps once production ramps up)? Generally I expect the new hottness tech to be more expensive than old'n'busted.


Without answers to these questions, these vests will be nothing more than a "slightly better for a lot more money" niche solution.

Oblig. Battlestar Galactica comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242751)

from Zylon
 
Made from Xylon, man that's brutal!

Cop's widow wins lawsuit over vest - made of Zylon (2, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242775)

Found this and it looks like a court found enough evidence to say the vest failed due to heat, moisture, and light. Also, the vest was made of Zylon and the company stopped using it 4 months after the cop was killed.

http://www.whistleblowers.org/Cop_s_widow_wins.htm [whistleblowers.org]

LoB

Science of similar fibers - links (3, Informative)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242925)


As with anything, the devil's in the details. From a previous trip around the web in re: bodyarmor.

It's not Tupperware, but 'Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene' [wikipedia.org].

See also:
Spectra [honeywell.com]
Dyneema [dsm.com]
Aramids (from "aromatic polyamide") [wikipedia.org]
- Example: Twaron [twaron.com]

Kevlar [wikipedia.org], of course.
Also Nomex [wikipedia.org] - known for it's heat-resistant attributes, also strong. It's an "aromatic nylon, the meta variant of the para-aramid Kevlar."

Hmm, (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242951)

Will these have a replace every 5 years life span reguardless its ever been out of the box? Current bullet proof vests have the manufactured date on there and it's generally policy to replace them 5 years from manufactured date. This is just a cost of doing business with bullet proof vests that the police field recongizes and they budget for it. Do these new ones need to be replaced on that time table though?
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