Body armour can only improve with research and development, and this has largely focused on creating thinner and lighter body armour. However, there is also a great deal of research being undertaken in finding new materials that can help protect against weapons. This follows in the vein of past research, which helped bring about Kevlar and other para-aramids that have since formed the basis of modern body armour.
Improving the Armour
The majority of bulletproof vests use DuPont® Kevlar in their protective plates, because of its high strength-to-weight ratio and its ability to displace and absorb the energy of a bullet. However, the bullet-resistant plates used in these vests require multiple layers of Kevlar in order to make them bullet-resistant, which naturally increases the weight. Similarly, if protection is needed at higher levels, even more layers need to be used. Increasing the strength and protective capability of the fibres can allow plates to be made with fewer layers, making them far lighter. This means that individuals can move freely and not be hindered by his or her vest. Most manufacturers of materials used in body armour, are now boasting dramatic reductions in the weight of their materials, allowing vests to be much lighter and thinner.
Lighter armour means that harder plates some will have to wear become much more comfortable. Protection against higher calibre ammunition, from rifles, for example, requires rigid plates of Ceramics, Polyethylene or a mixture of the two, which can be inserted into the carrier. However, this can greatly increase the weight of armour, which is why research into making these plates lighter will be of great benefit to those who need protection against high calibre ammunition. Manufacturers of body armour have designed lighter armours that can still protect at the same levels, making it much more comfortable to wear. A similar area of development has been in making these lighter and thinner armours multi-threat, providing increased protection at the same weight.
Improving the Carrier
Many of the deaths among police officers occur when the officer does not wear their protective vest, usually because it is hot and uncomfortable. As explained above, manufacturers are already working towards making the protective plates lighter and thinner, but this means nothing when the carrier (the vest that holds the panels) is uncomfortable. This is why manufacturers of body armour are starting to develop carriers that incorporate breathable materials to help keep the wearer cool by dispersing heat across the vest. This means that when bulletproof vests are worn close to the skin they will be far less uncomfortable for the wearer. SafeGuard Clothing is the only manufacturer to incorporate CoolMax technology to draw moisture away from the skin and to control the temperature of the wearer- an important improvement when any distraction can mean the difference between life and death. Adjustable Velcro straps, custom cuts of fabric and new designs are all improvements that manufacturers have looked at in an effort to reduce temperature and increase comfort. There has also been an increase in the number of supplementary products available which are designed to be worn with body armour in an attempt to improve airflow and comfort. For example, there are even small hand pumps available for manual circulation of air around the wearer’s body. Some manufacturers are also designing carriers that replicate other articles of clothing; waistcoats and suit jackets can all be made from bulletproof materials or with inserts for protective plates.
Body Armour is constantly being made thinner, lighter and more comfortable, for many different reasons. It can reduce cost, increase efficiency, but primarily it provides a better product. The ideal bulletproof vest is one that can be worn with little to no effort and almost feels like it isn’t there at all. SafeGuard Clothing® is constantly using the latest developments in the body armour industry to provide protective clothing that can keep you as safe as possible, and as comfortable as possible.