bullet proof vests save thousands of lives every year. Although a rifle shot may cause a few rib fractures the vests will not allow the bullet to enter your body. An interesting material called Kevlar is the real superhero in the modern bullet proof vests which has amazing tensile strength with good flexibility. Let’s learn about this life-saving technology in more detail.
The crowds of Michigan were amazed when Mr. Richard devis a former U.S marine shot himself to prove his newly developed Kevlar-based bulletproof vest is better than any other vest available at that time. Usage of Kevlar and bullet proof vests for the first time is mostly credited to Richard devis even though we couldn’t find the word Kevlar in his patent.
Story of Invention
The story of the invention of Kevlar-based vests goes like this Richard devis was shot twice by robbers while delivering pizzas. He wanted to gift the police a super strong bullet proof vests so that the robbers free run would come to an end. This is how Kevlar-based bullet proof vests were born. To demonstrate the sheer strength of his vest.
Devas shot himself 190 times later the national of justice officially approved this material for use in bullet proof vests. The reason why this flexible material is able to withstand a shot from a bullet. We will explore towards the end of this post.
Flexible and strong
This is one Kevlar layer many such layers are used in bullet proof vests. Now it’s time for battle.
Pistol vs Kevlar
A bullet from a pistol versus Kevlar layers, a bullet from a pistol generally travels at the speed of 400-meter par second. This bullet hits the first layer of Kevlar, the bullet energy is so high here that the Kevlar fibers are not able to withstand it and it breaks. However, during this process, the speed of the bullet is reduced a few layers of Kevlar get damaged this way after a significant speed reduction the Kevlar will block the incoming bullet yes our Kevlar-based vest has saved a life.
Soft Body Armor
The vest we just developed is known as soft body armor. A type of bullet called a hollow point is used to increase the wound area and its effectiveness. This bullet will expand its tip or the bullet will mushroom while it travels through the human body. The interesting thing is that the vest we developed just now will block such bullets quite easily. Here the bullet tip gets flattened due to the resistance of the Kevlar layers.
Rifle vs Kevlar
This spreading out of the bullet tip reduces the impact on the next Kevlar layers significantly thus the bullet can be stopped quite easily here. However, if the shot is from a rifle meaning the bullet is traveling at a very high speed All these Kevlar layers will fail. So what’s the solution here.
Just add a steel plate above the Kevlar layers a strong steel plate will make sure that the bullet is not even allowed to penetrate it. It will bounce back you may think this new bullet proof vests is super effective.
But it can cause you blunt trauma an injury where you look fine from the outside but your internal organs are damaged in the previous animation. We saw the bullet take some time before it came to a rest. However, in this steel plate case the bullet was stopped almost instantly. This means the human body has to absorb all the energy of bullet in a very short time span.
This translates into a tremendous amount of force and the internal organs of the human body won’t be able to withstand such a high intensity pressure.
Another issue with the steel body armor is bullet splash, this is why nowadays ceramic alloy based plates are preferred over the steel plates. They will allow bullet penetration and reduce the bullet speed significantly after the speed reduction the remaining Kevlar layers will be able to stop the bullet quite easily.
Here the human body is experiencing a much lower force. Since the whole process takes place during a longer time duration, these kinds of vests are called hard body armors.
hard body armors
With the help of an interesting cricket ball example, we can understand the difference between a steel plate and ceramic alloy based body armor in a batter way. If you catch ball with steady hands you will experience a good amount of pain. However, during catch completion if you move your hands down you won’t experience mush pain at all.
Here your hands absorb the energy of the ball in a longer time duration, a quick comparison between ceramic and steel plate based body armors is shown here. Now the most interesting part of this post is,
Fabrication of Kevlar
How is such flexible material like Kevlar?
Able to provide superior strength generally strong materials are never flexible this super strong organic Kevlar material was developed by woman Stephanie Kwalek in the DuPont laboratory. She was in fact developing material to replace steel cord in tires.
If you spin the Kevlar which is initially in a crystalline liquid form, you’ll see that it transforms into a thicker form. The reason formation of the hydrogen bonds, these hydrogen bonds are the reason why Kevlar is a super strong material. Using this interesting material for bullet proof vests was simply a genius idea.
Three major qualities needed for a bullet proof vests are flexibility resistance and lightweight. Kevlar based bullet proof vests perfectly meet all these requirements however you’ll be amazed know that the quality of Kevlar fibers in bullet proof vests degrade with time. That’s why it is advised to discontinue use after five years of their manufacturing.
Now lets see a real Kevlar layer
This is a single Kevlar layer its look like a paper but it is extremely stiff and strong.
We should thank Stephanie Kwalek of DuPont for inventing a flexible and super strong material and Richard Devis for understanding its potential. They definitely deserve a big round of applause for revolutionizing this life saving technology.
Now let’s try to destroy the Kevlar sheets using a drilling machine (I applied all my force and you can see a small tiny scratch over here a tiny hole but absolutely nothing on the other side these sheets are perfectly safe Kevlar streets do a job perfectly)
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