While you obviously understand the importance of this type of tactical gear, you may not know quite as much about the materials behind body armor. Let's take a closer look at the most common materials used in the creation of this item. It is important to note that not just any material can be used for body armor. The material must have the ability to slow down the speed and force of a bullet while minimizing its impact. The idea is to stop the bullet from penetrating the skin and causing damage, or at the very least greatly reducing the magnitude of the damage if it does penetrate the skin or soft tissue.
There is rigorous testing involved for the manufacturer to ensure the materials used can pass the standards of protection. Materials are usually layered to create even more stopping power for better protection so it is not uncommon to see more than one type of material listed in the construction of the armor. Here are the most common materials behind body armor: Para-Aramids (Kevlar) This class of synthetic fibers is known for being exceptionally strong and resistant to heat. What is a para-aramid? It is created by combining AABB polymer by way of a chemical reaction between amine molecules and carboxylic which is then combined with sulfuric acid. The result is a strong material that can be used in pulp, fabric, or even a powder format. When most people think of para-aramids, they are thinking of the commonly used Kevlar material. This material is not only incredibly durable but is also known to offer some of the best in flexibility and lightweight wear to make it easier to move around. While there were other materials used before Kevlar taking over, these materials didn't offer the same ballistic resistance as Kevlar which could resist even the highest velocity of ballistic travel. Kevlar also had the ability to prevent stab wounds from occurring because the blade couldn't penetrate the material.
Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) Another common material found in body armor is ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. It has similar properties as para-aramids, but the composition is different. This material is made up of long polyethylene chains and is considered a polyolefin. It can be created by way of compression molding or gel spinning. The result is a material with incredible strength under pressure which makes it ideal for use as a body armor material. This material can be used either by itself or in combination with any of the other materials listed here thanks to its versatility and performance. Hard Armor Materials A good-quality body armor vest is typically made up of more than one material. For instance, you may find options with Kevlar coupled with hard amour protective plates of metal such as steel in areas where extra protection is needed such as over the heart. Hard amour is also seen in helmets, typically with a thermoplastic resin coating, to safeguard the head during dangerous situations. Hard armor materials can be made of steel, but they can also be made of other metals or composites. The key is to choose something strong enough to help with ballistic resistance where you need it most.
Additional MaterialsWhen looking at the materials behind body armor, you will also find a few more familiar names as part of the vest cover. For example, you are likely to see standard materials such as Coolmax and Gore-Tex when shopping for body armor. Coolmax is a lightweight material that helps with moisture wicking by drawing sweat away from the body while also keeping the wearer cool. Gore-Tex is a breathable fabric that is incredibly strong and has waterproof qualities for added performance. You will find both of these materials on a range of body armor, especially on police body armor. There are also other common materials used in body armor such as Cordura which is a high tenacity fiber that is known for being incredibly sturdy. Another common material is mesh which is utilized in various areas to help with breathability and flexibility of movement. These materials can also be combined with any of the others listed here as part of the overall designs. Most body armor actually consists of more than one type of material. When shopping for the right body armor for your needs and profession, there are plenty of innovative materials made specifically for the task at hand. The key is to opt for these materials, whether combined with others on the list or a strong material not mentioned here, to ensure proper protection on the job. When you have a basic understanding of these commonly used materials, it can help you make a more educated decision regarding your personal safety.