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Building better bullet-proof vests

Advanced Textiles | June 1, 2009 | By:

Protective vests and body armor are fabricated using high-performance fibers, such as Kevlar®, Twaron®, aramids or high-density polyethylene. A research team at the University of Manchester, England, wanted to know how these ballistic fabrics react to piercing bullets at the micron scale. “By understanding the way a bullet penetrates the armor and the way it puts stresses in that material, we can create models and improve the design of those fabrics in the future,” says Ian Kinloch, an engineering materials researcher at Manchester.

Researchers will use high-speed photography and Raman spectroscopy to study strain distribution in the fabric on bullet impact. By examining the strain patterns, the Manchester team hopes to find design improvements for fabrics used to protect military and law-enforcement personnel. The project is receiving support from the Metropolitan Police, and will conclude in 2013. For more information about this and other research taking place at the Manchester Materials Performance Centre, visit

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