Category Archive: Core Matrix™ Technology

How Are Bulletproof Vests Made?

bulletproof-vest

Traditional body armor requires quilt stitching, as seen above. Tex Tech Industries Core Matrix™ Technology eliminates the need for quilt stitching and this can help reduce manufacturing time and increase package flexibility.

Personal body armor has surfaced in a variety of different forms throughout the centuries. Today, bulletproof vests serve as a lightweight armor technology designed to protect the wearer from critical internal injuries caused by firearm projectiles—i.e., bullets.

The term bulletproof, in this case, is technically incorrect; most “bulletproof” vests are “bullet-resistant”. While they are not designed to cover the entirety of the wearer nor able to protect them from all types of firearms weapons, they can provide protection against a wide range of projectile-related injuries. The National Institute of Justice identifies five classifications of bulletproof vests—IIA, II, IIA, III, and IV—each of which carries a different level of wearer protection suited to specific projectiles.

Due to their critical function, these personal protection devices are made from high-performance materials specially designed for superior tensile strength and durability. The following blog post provides an overview of the bulletproof vest manufacturing process, outlining the materials employed and individual stages.

bulletproof vest information

Bulletproof Vest Materials

Similar to most clothing, bulletproof vests consist of fibers or filaments. However, these fibers are more lightweight and demonstrate greater strength than the ones of general-use clothing. Two of the most commonly employed are: 

  • Kevlar®, Twaron®,  strong synthetic para-aramid fibers that exhibits high strength and heat resistance
  • Dyneema®, a soft and flexible—but strong—ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene fiber produced through a gel-spinning process

bulletproof vest materials

Regardless of the type of material, the initial fibers are woven or spun into long continuous threads or cords, which are then used to produce fabrics and sheet material for use in the manufacture of bulletproof equipment. Individual fabric panels are often layered together to provide the protective force necessary to stop bullets and other projectiles.

The Bulletproof Vest Manufacturing Process

Bulletproof vest manufacturing operations generally consists of the following stages:

bulletproof vest manufacturing process

1. Making the Panel Cloth

The manufacture of bulletproof vests begins with making the raw material. This stage varies depending on the type of material employed. For example: 

  • For Kevlar/Twaron, the process starts in a laboratory with the production of poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide in a process known as polymerization. It combines individual polymer molecules into long chains, resulting in the creation of a crystalline liquid chemical blend. This liquid is then extruded through a spinneret—a metal plate component with tiny holes—to produce the solid Kevlar fiber. The fiber is then hardened, wound, twisted, and, finally, woven into Kevlar cloth.
  • For UHMW, the initial filament is spun into fibers that are then laid parallel to each other and coated with resin. Two of the formed sheets are placed together with the grains running perpendicularly to each other, bonded, and secured between sheets of polyethylene film—resulting in the production of unid-directional sheets 

Once the material making stage is finished, the cloth can be rolled up and shipped out to bulletproof vest manufacturers. 

2. Cutting the Panels

During the panel cutting stage, bulletproof vest manufacturers unroll the cloth onto a large cutting table, laying out as many layers as is needed to suit the desired protection level. Once all of the layers are in position, they place a pre-made pattern on top of the cloth to act as a guide and use a handheld cutting tool to cut out the individual panels. Some manufacturers utilize a computer graphics system to optimize pattern placement before cutting to minimize material waste. 

After cutting out all of the required panels, manufacturers can then proceed to the sewing stage. 

3. Sewing the Panels

During the sewing stage, manufacturers first arrange the panels appropriately and use a stencil and chalk to mark out a sewing pattern on the top layer. By following the pattern as they sew, they ensure the vest comes out as intended. Once the panels are fully assembled, they can also sew on a size label.

This stage can differ depending on the material used for the bulletproof vest. For example: 

  • Kevlar bulletproof vests are box-stitched or quilt-stitched. Box stitching creates a sizable single box in the middle of the vest, while quilt-stitching forms small diamonds of material separated by stitching. TexTech’s Core Matrix Technology can remove or greatly remove this process.  
  • Vests made from Tex Tech’s Core Matrix™ Technology eliminates the need for advanced stitching architecture. The revolutionary and patented technology implants Z-directional staple-length fibers directly into the fabric stack, creating a unique solid fabric structure. 

4. Finishing the Vest

For bulletproof vests to function effectively, the panels must be held against the body properly. Specially designed vest shells ensure this occurs by holding the ballistic panels in the correct position.

Manufacturers produce the shells using traditional sewing equipment and techniques and slip the finished bulletproof panels into the completed shells. Once they’ve assembled the main vest component, they sew any additional accessories—such as straps—in place. When the vest is fully finished, they box it up and prepare it for shipment to the customer. 

Ballistics Protection Material Solutions From Tex Tech

At Tex Tech, we supply innovative high-performance textile solutions that meet the needs of some of the most demanding and difficult industrial applications, including ballistics protection. Our patented Core Matrix Technology materials offer enhanced protection and allow for more streamlined bulletproof vest production. With its highly predictable performance levels, our ballistics material is suitable for use in the civilian, law enforcement, and military sectors.

With over a century of industry experience, we have the skills and knowledge to meet virtually every engineered fabric need with quality products and services. For additional information on how we serve the ballistic protection or other markets, contact us today.

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What You Need to Know About Meeting the Rigorous New NIJ Standards

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

Core Matrix Technology™ from Tex Tech Industries allows manufacturers to create lighter, flexible, and more comfortable body armor designed to meet all NIJ soft armor standards.

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.