Requirements for the use of body armor varies from police department to department, with some officers required to wear it while on duty and others allowed to choose.
Officers who choose not to wear vests often complain that they are too uncomfortable or hot, but manufacturers are trying to make ballistic vests more comfortable while preserving their protective capabilities.
New advances in design and chemistry are making it easier for manufacturers to find a good balance between protection and comfort, and combinations of fabrics and products in layers can provide different kinds of protection.
DuPont’s Kevlar is the base of the body armor business, and DuPont is still improving on the substance thirty years after it was developed, asking police departments for suggestions.
Some ballistic fiber makers have managed to laminate different weaves together for better efficiency in flexibility, stopping power, and blunt trauma mitigation.
Teijin Twaron produces a laminated aramid fiber product that uses Twaron microfilament fabrics that are both strong and light and that can have a fabric-like surface; Honeywell’s Spectra fiber is also being combined with other materials.
Safariland’s ZERO-G vest has a shape that provides enhanced ballistic coverage and can fit almost any body type. It offers greater movement and Evaporative Cooling Zones to wick away moisture.
Such wicking technology is common, and is used by Under Armour in its skin-tight under-vest shirt, while PACA Body Armor’s Armor Ice thermal management technology uses temperature-seeking foam to keep users cooler.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Police (09/03) Vol. 27, No. 9, P. 52; Douglas, Dave.