Modern body armour is used in a wide range of applications including law enforcement, civilian use and the defence sector as it provides convenient and effective protection to those in high risk situations.
Advancements have also allowed for protective clothing to become increasingly compact with the introduction of various innovative technologies including Kevlar and Dyneema which has helped to increase its efficacy in the field.
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How it works
The majority of modern body armour uses a series of interwoven materials such as Kevlar fibres coupled with plastic films to create a purpose-built net formation.
Upon impact, much of the bullet’s velocity is caught and spread across the net’s wide surface area which helps prevent the round from penetrating skin and greatly mitigates force felt by the wearer.
This concept is very similar to the way a football is slowed and eventually stopped by the net when a goal is scored.
The way in which modern body armour is manufactured affords it greater resistance to fast moving projectiles such as bullets and grenade shrapnel than other much heavier materials such as steel which were used previously.
Most materials used in conventional clothing are unable to provide the same level of resistance against bullets. As a result, their fibres will break almost instantly and allow the majority of the projectile’s velocity to be exerted on to the body.
There have also been further advancements in this area with the introduction of custom vests such as ‘Dragon Skin Armour’,
These vests work in a similar way to their Kevlar equivalents in that they spread the force of a bullet over a large area but, instead, contain a series of ceramic plates.
However, these vests have been the subject of much controversy over the years due to a number of legal issues and are used less commonly as a result.
Body armour’s is not limited simply to bullet/stab proof vests and is used in a wide range of situations.
In civilian scenarios, motorcycle clothing can be woven with strands of Kevlar in order to provide added strength which helps to protect riders during collisions.
Other domestic situations where similar equipment can be found include clothing designed to provide protection for chainsaw operators and equipment for high temperature environments.
Some of the most common uses of body armour, however, can be found in the military and law enforcement sectors.
Body armour is used extensively in the military to help minimise injuries and deaths caused by bullets, knives and other lethal weapons.
In the early 1900s rudimentary armour provided limited protection however, in the present day, equipment is now available which can withstand pistol and rifle rounds as well as moderate explosions in specialist clothing such as the bomb suit pictured below.
Materials such as Kevlar provide an excellent solution to reinforcing clothing whilst still maintaining a small form factor which is compact enough to facilitate easy movement.
Over the years, protective clothing such as body armour has helped to save countless lives and provide added protection to people working in high risk environments such as firefighters and police offers.