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July/August 2011
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Body Armor

body armorA proposed new ASTM International standard will provide a consistent way of comparing the relative weights of different body armor designs used in the production of protective vests for law enforcement and corrections personnel.

The proposed new standard, WK31929, Test Method for Areal Density Measurement of an Armor Panel, is being developed by Subcommittee D13.19 on Industrial Fibers and Metallic Reinforcements, part of ASTM International Committee D13 on Textiles.

According to Amanda Forster and Michael Riley of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the classic way of producing soft body armor is by stitching together layers of fabrics or laminates based on multi-plied, unidirectionally oriented fibers. However, designs have become more complex as advancing technology has provided a greater understanding of the interaction of projectiles with vests.

“The use of multiple materials, understanding the interaction at the edge versus the middle of the vest, shaping for female vests, special needs for trauma inserts and many other design advancements have led to nonuniform vest designs that make it difficult to understand the actual areal weight of the vest,” says Riley.

Once approved, the proposed new standard will allow manufacturers to accurately document their armor designs and give purchasing agents and end users a better understanding of the relative weights of designs when they are making purchasing decisions.

Participation in the activities of D13.19 is encouraged. Dawn Caullwine, quality manager, DuPont Cooper River Kevlar, and D13 chairman, notes that the initial purpose of D13.19 was to develop test methods for materials used to reinforce mechanical rubber goods, including tires. While the focus of the subcommittee has shifted somewhat toward the type of high performance fibers that are used in WK31929, the subcommittee does still include mechanical rubber goods end uses, and participation from tire and belt manufacturers, as well as bead wire and man-made fibers, is still strongly encouraged.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Dawn Caullwine, DuPont Cooper River Kevlar, Moncks Corner, S.C.

Phone: 843-797-9928

ASTM Staff: Jennifer Rodgers

Phone: 610-832-9694