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U.S. Army research creates lightweight plastic armor

The U.S. Army research creates lightweight plastic armor which can be used as bases for developing new body armor, advanced combat helmets, ballistics plates and or even combat vehicles.

Researchers at University at Buffalo, funded by the Army Research Office (ARO), created a lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel and ideal for absorbing the impact of bullets and other projectiles, according to U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs news release.

The research findings are published in the journal ACS Applied Polymer Materials, and its earlier publication in J. Phys. Chem. Lett. (see related links below)

“The material is stiff, strong and tough,” said Dr. Shenqiang Ren, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, a member of University at Buffalo’s RENEW Institute, and the paper’s lead author. “It could be applicable to vests, helmets and other types of body armor, as well as protective armor for ships, helicopters and other vehicles.”

The bulk of the material is a souped-up version of polyethylene (the most common plastic) called ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, which is used to make products like artificial hips and guitar picks.

A new lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel may lead to next-generation military armor.
Photo courtesy of University at Buffalo

When designing the UHMWPE, the researchers studied mother of pearl, which mollusks create by arranging a form of calcium carbonate into a structure that resembles interlocking bricks. Like mother of pearl, the researchers designed the material to have an extremely tough outer shell with a more flexible inner backing that’s capable of deforming and absorbing projectiles.

“Professor Ren’s work designing UHMWPE to dramatically improve impact strength may lead to new generations of lightweight armor that provide both protection and mobility for …read more

Read more here:: Defence Blog (Land)

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