Archive: Apr 2018
To meet the mandates of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sponsors the Standards and Testing Program. This is part of a broader research effort that determines the needs of justice system agencies and sets minimum performance standards that must be met in order for commercially available equipment to qualify for purchase consideration.
Manufacturers voluntarily submit laboratory testing and evaluation figures to show that they meet these standards and can reliably meet specific agency needs. The NIJ standards help protect buyers, ensuring that they know the quality of the armor they are provided. Maintaining the NIJ seal is also important for manufacturers, as it allows them to qualify for grant funding.
The standards are not regulatory in nature; rather, they articulate best practices. NIJ standards are also subject to change as continued research and development (R&D) efforts allow for industry driven improvements based on environmental shifts in agency operations. Put simply, this means that the NIJ reserves the right to modify their existing requirements to ensure they’re addressing any perceived weaknesses in different body armor designs.
With this in mind, it’s critical that body armor and tactical gear manufacturers carefully consider how to best comply with evolving NIJ standards.
Changes to the NIJ Standards
In the summer of 2017, the NIJ introduced Standard-0101.07, which will replace Standard- 0101.06 in late 2018. In this interim period, ballistic armor manufacturers have a head start to begin developing their products to the new standards.
Changes to the standards include the following:
- Higher test-round velocity standards
The test-round velocity for conditioned armor will be the same as that for new armor during testing. For example, for 06 Level IIIA the .44 Magnum round is currently shot at 1338FPS for conditioned armor and at 1430FPS for new armor. For the NIJ Standard-0101.07, the velocity for both conditioned and new armor will be the same, raising the bar for body armor manufacturers to keep their armor performing at a high level in an austere environment.
COREMATRIX Technology has been tested and successfully proven to be a superior material in post-conditioned ballistic testing. With increased post-conditioned velocity testing requirements, we expect COREMATRIX to meet or exceed the requirements of the stringent NIJ 07 standards.
- New threat level definitions
The previous Roman numeral designation system has been eliminated entirely. The lowest soft armor threat level was also removed, raising the minimum standards for soft body armor; II and IIIA have been changed to HG1 and HG2 for handgun threats, while hard armor levels III and IV have been replaced by RF1 and RF3 for rifle threats.
In addition, an RF2 median level was added to the new standard, specifically dedicated to high-performance 5.56 mm ammunition and non-armor piercing 7.62 mm ammunition, bridging a previously existing gap between threat levels for “rifles” and “armor-piercing rifles.” These new definitions will not only allow for more accurate testing, but also give the end-user a better idea of exactly what kind of protection they are wearing.
- Gender-based armor fitting
NIJ-0101.07 standards recognize that body armor fits men and women differently, and as such, releases new testing standards for women’s body armor. New standards require additional test shots in the area around the armor’s bust cups to ensure that armor specifically designed for use by females offers the same ballistic protection.
- More lenient backface standards
The term “backface” refers to the amount of impact the wearer of the body armor experiences. The new proposed standards would allow 2 inches of backface instead of 1.7 inches, which some believe may have a negative medical impact for the wearer. The idea behind loosening this standard, however, is that it will enable the use of lighter materials, which should encourage military personnel and police officers to wear the armor more often.
When body armor manufacturers source, it’s critical that they assess how a certain material or supplier will ensure the end product meets the required standards in order for it to be a viable purchase option. Being able to meet these standards creates consumer confidence and can make all the difference in saving a life.
Exceeding the Standards with Core Matrix Ballistic Material
The unique 3D structure of Core Matrix effectively dissipates energy along three separate axes, creating a 360° energy dispersion during a ballistic event. This serves to disperse energy efficiently across three planes so that the energy from an impact moves spherically throughout the entire vest, reliably protecting personnel and ensuring optimal safety on the job.
To learn more about the new NIJ standards or discuss ballistics material options with an expert, reach out to the Tex Tech team today.
High-performance materials, specifically high-performance textiles, have a wide range of applications across various industries. Manufactured with the use of traditional fabric-making processes — such as spinning, weaving, and knitting — these engineered fabrics can be designed to meet specific strength and corrosion-resistance requirements and can be made to provide superior protection against natural elements.
These cutting-edge textiles find applications in areas including protective-clothing manufacturing for military and firefighting applications, stain- and moisture-repellent coatings for industrial applications, and corrosion-resistant membranes for corrosive chemical processes. Thanks to this great versatility, the high-performance textile industry is showing sustained annual growth rates close to 20%.
In chlor-alkali processing, in particular, high-performance fabrics play a critical role in ensuring optimal efficiency.
Understanding Chlor-Alkali Processing
Chlor-alkali processing is essentially the electrolysis of sodium chloride (NaCl), allowing for the creation of chlorine and sodium hydroxide, along with hydrogen. All three of these chemicals have many large-scale industrial applications.
The chlor-alkali process makes use of brine and a membrane cell. The anode oxidizes the chloride ion, which loses an electron to become free chlorine gas. The hydrogen ions are pulled from water and reduced at the cathode, forming hydrogen gas. The semi-permeable membrane at the center permits the sodium ions to travel to a second chamber, where they react with water to produce sodium hydroxide.
All of the materials involved in chlor-alkali processing — both raw materials and final products — are highly reactive and corrosive. Therefore, inert materials are essential for successfully carrying out the process.
Tex Tech produces an array of high-performance fabrics specifically suited for such applications. These carbon fiber-based woven materials are resistant to corrosion and can be significantly stretched, improving flexibility and formability. These nonporous woven textile membranes can greatly improve the efficiency of the chlor-alkali process.
Common Applications for Chlor-Alkali Materials
It’s critical to work with a fabric that is compatible with chlor-alkali processing to ensure optimal quality of the resultant chemicals. As mentioned earlier, all three products produced — chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide — are widely employed across various industries.
In fact, chlorine is used in roughly 55% of all industrial chemical processes and has applications in the manufacturing of plastics and resins, water purification processes, and the production of pure silicon, which is used in electronic components and solar panels.
Similarly, sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, is widely used in food manufacturing, aluminum manufacturing, and the textile industry, in addition to serving as a cleaning agent.
Hydrogen, as a combustible gaseous fuel, is used in fuel cells, and in the manufacture of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
Given the critical nature of chlor-alkali processing and the corrosive nature of the materials involved, it’s essential to make use of a woven fabric that is completely compatible with the process.
As an industry leader in cutting-edge, high-performance materials, Tex Tech offers a wide range of innovative products to suit all types of industrial needs. With over a century of experience and over 7,000 textile products under our belt, we are uniquely qualified to assist clients in the material selection process.
To learn more about our high-performance textile products, including those for chlor-alkali processing, contact the team today.