The performance and endurance of military, law enforcement and security personnel have always been affected by the weight of their gear. Trends are underscoring the need for new, lighter materials that can deliver top protective performance and usability.
Multiple global government initiatives are underway to reduce the weight of personal protective equipment for soldiers. DSM Dyneema, the manufacturer of high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) fiber, branded as Dyneema®, sees the adoption of next-generation lighter material technologies as an important part of the answer. The use of UHMwPE materials in body and vehicle protection is expected to show double-digit growth in the next five years.
The company is addressing the need for weight reduction in body armor and vehicle armor applications to provide the best ballistic performance at an affordable price. “The increased concern for security around the globe and higher threat levels on the street call for greater flexibility to optimize armor protection and comfort,” says Shitij Chabba, global segment director, life protection. “DSM Dyneema is proactively developing advanced UHMwPE fiber, unidirectional and tape platforms that can deliver uncompromising protection at every budget level.”
Two important trends in law enforcement are contributing to this development in personal protective gear:
- Law enforcement is shifting to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) .06 Standard. In 2008, NIJ Standard 0101.06, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor signaled the latest evolution in standards by which law enforcement protective vests are measured. It establishes new and updated minimum performance requirements and test methods for the ballistic resistance of personal body armor designed to protect the torso against gunfire.
- Mandatory-wear policies are becoming the norm across the country, but some officers still avoid wearing body armor because it’s too warm and uncomfortable.
To meet the global demand for enhanced protection while staying within the stringent budget requirements, DSM Dyneema is now offering Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology products from the company’s Radical Innovation platform.
DSM Dyneema is the inventor and manufacturer of Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene (UHMWPE) fiber branded as Dyneema®, which offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and up to 40 percent stronger than aramid fibers, both on weight-for-weight basis. Dyneema® fiber floats on water and is durable and resistant to moisture, UV light and chemicals. UHMWPE fiber is produced in Heerlen, The Netherlands, and in Greenville, N.C.