General definitions of the concept of body armor do not in any way explain its composition and design features. Ballistic protection is a new term that has been based on an analysis of the results of experiments on several types of tested materials. Those with limited knowledge of the field will soon learn how fibers and ceramics work.
Today, there are two categories of content in body armor working material. Soft and hard plates made of materials such as:
- Actual Soft Body Armor
- Silicon Carbide Particles
- UHMWPE Fibers
- Actual Hard Plate Armor
- Boron Carbide (B4C)
- Silicon Carbide (SiC)
- Aluminum Oxide (Al₂O₃)
In addition to the above, non-ballistic materials are used in the design of the body armor. They hold the heavier elements in the right places and therefore the body armor becomes more comfortable. The differences between these materials are in the form of design and functional purpose.
All new materials are regularly researched and tested. Most of the results of modern research seemed unattainable 20 years ago. Today, the developed solutions are considered the main safety criterion for body armor.
Soft, Hard, and Auxiliary Body Armors
The most significant difference is between soft and hard plates. Soft options are made of flexible fibers to capture and dissipate energy from the shot, providing body protection.
Intense combat clashes usually require a combination of both. While hard plates are worn to cover the torso, the fighter’s head, neck, stomach, groin are protected with soft plates of body armor.
Rigid armor works by distributing impact energy over a much larger area. It is heavy and restricts movement for a long time.
They must determine the weight and volume of the armor, which can be the best, for which new materials are constantly being tested.
Today, non-ballistic elements have been developing that tie all this equipment together and make it more convenient to use. The comfort of wearing increases the fighter’s mobility significantly.
Soft materials for body armor
Soft body armor is amazing. The materials aramid and polyethylene are very thin, yet effective in severe ballistic conditions. The high tensile strength and lightness that enhance mobility are surprising to all experts.
NIJ Level IIa and IIIa soft panels are 4 to 10 mm thick. That allowed the development of magnificent body armor mobiles that were previously unrealistic even in the imagination.
ARAMID FIBER – KEVLAR® / NOMEX®
Polyamide and aramid materials are something incredible. They are lightweight, durable, fireproof, resistant to aggressive water and acidic environments.
Aramid is very refractory and makes an increase in external impact energy. Amide bonds become stale and become impenetrable right through.
Nomex® is the aramid first introduced to the body armor market by DuPont. After improving the ballistic resistance of the material, para-aramid was developed and is now marketed under the Kevlar® brand.
SILICON CARBIDE COMPOUNDS – TWARON®
The main component of the Twaron® brand is also aramid. The fibers of the working material have been saturating with silicon carbide. That makes the protection more durable and resistant to the dynamic effects of shots.
This procedure increases the plates’ thickness and weight, but significantly increases the resistance to firearms.
POLYETHYLENE – DYNEEMA® / SPECTRA®
As surprising as it may be, polyethylene is an order of magnitude stronger than metal and 15 times more resistant to abrasion. In terms of impact resistance, it is even more effective than aramid. However, due to certain specifics, this material is not always ideal.
Rigid body armor materials
This version of the vest protects the areas of the torso much important, preventing injuries that are incompatible with life from a rifle. The existing disadvantage, which is the product weight, is fully compensated by the ballistic protection level.
These models comply with the most optimal strength-weight criterion. Such vests are considered ideal for mobile troops that move around a lot. The carrier plate weighs only 7 pounds.
Non-ballistic materials in body armor
Many manufacturers of protective equipment use the same working materials. Ballistic fibers and plates are freely available. And developers can show their creativity only in their combinations in non-ballistic materials.
The number of combinations can be large enough. The perfect pairing of ballistic and non-ballistic materials in body armor areas is a criterion for commercial success.