Ballistic Protection Fabric and Bulletproof Vests
By: Kaustubh NathSource: Textile Review
The first protective clothing and shields were made from animal skins. As civilizations became moreadvanced, wooden shields and then metal shields came into use. Eventually, metal was also used asbody armor, what we now refer to as the suit of armor associated with the knights of the Middle Ages. It was not until the late 19th century that the first use of soft body armor in the United States wasrecorded.
“If they want war, we will give them one “You would have heard the above phrase from the big leaders of the nation. Destructive forces are used for having a control over the people. In all the wars that have been fought, textile has played a vital role in providingprotection to certain extent to the soldiers. From the skirmishing infantry of the valiant emperors of the past, tothe modern day infantry we could see many developments in the field of providing protection in all forms to thesoldiers. Steel plates, natural fibres were used before for providing protection. Man' imagination led him into theworld of high performance fibres in the textiles used for defence. But we should note that even though there aremany developments in this field, it is very difficult for us to provide all the required functionality in a singlegarment, it has to be provided through layers of materials. And that's what we are going to see in this article. Ihave started with the history of the ballistic protection textiles and gradually into the modern developments andthe various roles of textiles in the modern day war field.War does not determine who is right - only who is left.-Bertrand RussellHumans throughout recorded history have used various types of materials as body armor to protect themselves from injury in combatand other dangerous situations. The first protective clothing andshields were made from animal ski ns. As civiIizations became moreadvanced, wooden shields and then metal shields came into use.Eventually, metal was also used as body armor, what we now refer toas the suit of armor associated with the knights of the Middle Ages.However, with the invention of firearms around 1500, metal body armor became ineffective. Then only real protection available against firearmswere stone walls or natural barriers such as rocks, trees, and ditches.It was not until the late 19th century that the first use of soft body armor in the United States was recorded. At that time, the military exploredthe possibility of using soft body armor manufactured from silk. Theproject even attracted congressional attention after the assassinationof President William McKinley in 1901. While the garments were shownto be effective against low-velocity bullets, those traveling at 400 feetper second or less, they did not offer protection against the newgeneration of handgun ammunition being introduced at that time.Ammunition that traveled at velocities of more than 600 feet per second. This, along with the prohibitive cost of silk made the conceptunacceptable. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists recordsdating back to 1919 for various designs of bullet proof vests and bodyarmor type garments. One of the first documented instances wheresuch a garment was demonstrated for use by law enforcement officerswas detailed in the April 2, 1931 edition of the Washington, D.C.,Evening Star, where a bullet proof vest was demonstrated to membersof the Metropolitan Police Department. It was not until the late 1960sthat new fibers were discovered that made today's modern generationof cancelable body armor possible. The National Institute of Justice or