Body Armor Update: 2004
One of the most important developments this year was the lawsuit against Second Chance Body Armor filed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office in April. The suit alleges that the Zylon material used by the firm in several of its ballistic vests deteriorates quicker in hot weather conditions compared to other materials, and the firm knew about the problem but chose not to correct it.
Another pressing matter is the current deficiency in body armor among law enforcement as a result of demand from troops and civilian contractors in Iraq, says Georg Olsen, general manager at U.S. Armor; the shortage also stems from efforts to replace Zylon-based vests, which were pulled from the market in September 2003.
Over the past three years, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials have been collaborating to develop a new type of body armor material that uses a liquid. The test armor is made of layers of KEVLAR saturated with hard particles that float in polyethylene glycol fluid.
Researchers are trying to make the material strong enough to resist bullets and shrapnel; it is already resistant to arrows. Olsen adds that body armor makers are working with purchasers such as state governments to establish testing standards. Ideally, “if a manufacturer is awarded a state contract, a plan will be in place for ongoing testing over the life of the product,” says Olsen.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Police and Security News (08/04) Vol. 20, No. 4, P. 31; Miller, Christa M. .