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 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

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:

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. 

Ballistics layering

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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