"On the front line of officer safety"
Teijin Aramid Advances in Ballistic Protection
By: Jim Weiss and Mickey Davis
Special-purpose fabrics and materials are the answer for greater ballistic protection at lighter weights. The synthetic fiber called aramid is one of the solutions. Teijin Aramid is among the market leaders in that high-performance fiber industry. Weight by weight, the company’s para-aramid fiber, Twaron®, is five times stronger than steel.
Teijin Aramid, with its headquarters in Arnhem, Netherlands, is a subsidiary of the Teijin Group. It belongs to the Advanced Fibers & Composites Business Group. In the past, Teijin Aramid was part of AkzoNobel. In 2000, the Aramid division was bought by the Teijin Group. Teijin Aramid accounts for 50 percent of the worldwide aramid production.
Its products, Twaron®, Sulfron®, Teijinconex® and Technora® are known for their strength, sustainability, safety, heat resistance, and low weight. Twaron and Sulfron are produced in the Netherlands. Teijinconex and Technora are produced in Japan.
Law Enforcement Solutions
For over 30 years, Teijin Aramid has provided innovative but proven ballistic solutions to meet the ever-increasing demand for ballistic protection. According to Teijin Aramid, Oak Creek, Wisc. Police Lt. Brian Murphy was the first to respond to the fatal shooting rampage at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in August 2012. He was shot 17 times, but thanks to his Armor Express vest made with Twaron, he survived.
Focusing on personal protection and hard ballistic markets/segments, the company’s high-performance materials, Twaron (para-aramid) and Endumax® Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), enable comfortable and lightweight solutions at a competitive price/performance ratio.
Twaron, the para-aramid fiber, offers the broadest portfolio of different types available in the market, including yarns, unidirectional (UDs), and fabrics. These Twaron types vary in performance ranging from bullet resistant to fragment resistant, from stab resistant to spike resistant, and from the highest ballistic protection to the lowest back face deformation or trauma.
Back face deformation is the impact on the body when a protective vest is worn and a projectile hits the vest. These products can be given special treatments or finishes to meet specific demands and local laws and regulations.
Endumax, the newest thin, ultra-strong tape, provides the same ballistic performance level as most high-end polyethylene (PE) fibers, but in addition, it provides extraordinary high stiffness properties and reduces back face deformation. Endumax can be shaped to make insert plates for protective vests or hard ballistic plates.
Twaron and Endumax can be used in a variety of ballistic/law enforcement applications including: 1) soft ballistic protection, such as bullet-resistant vests or flexible protection of other body parts, 2) ballistic helmets, and 3) hard ballistics such as armored vehicles and shields.
Twaron Yarn and Fabric Products
Among the products Teijin Aramid offers are Twaron yarns that range from very thin (as thin as a spider thread) to very thick threads; Twaron fabrics made out of Twaron yarn, also ranging from very light weight for bulletproof vests to heavier fabrics for armored cars; and Twaron ballistic laminates and coated fabrics for soft ballistic applications.
Twaron has a wide range of yarns based on microfilament technology that allows Teijin partners to produce high-performing ballistic products that do not sacrifice comfort or wearability. These yarns reduce the crimp in the fabric production process, allowing the material to dissipate energy faster than conventional ballistic yarns.
Specially designed for correctional officers, Twaron Microflex is a patented, puncture-resistant aramid fabric made from high-strength Twaron Microfilament yarn woven to stringent specifications and finished by a proprietary process. This yields unsurpassed performance against the National Institute of Justice (NIJ 0115) engineered spike.
Microflex offers a softer, more comfortable solution than current technology, and because it uses a patented process to make it denser without heavy, expensive, fabric stiffening coatings, Microflex offers a wearable, cost-effective solution to correctional officers faced with the daily threat of attack by convicted felons with homemade, crude-but-deadly, sharp-pointed weapons known as shanks.
Twaron LFT SB1 is designed to protect in bullet-resistant vests with up to 25-percent weight reduction. LFT SB1 is a unique product that combines the ballistic performance of a unidirectional material with the comfort and wearability of a woven fabric.
Twaron LFT SB1 Plus makes ballistic vests soft, flexible, and easy to wear, and reduces back face deformation by 30 percent without sacrificing comfort, while still offering the same high-ballistic performance as conventional systems. This is the only ballistic material that provides four fiber directions (0 deg, 90 deg, +45 deg and -45 deg) all on one roll.
Along with the need to protect against ballistic impact, protection against attacks by sharp and pointed weapons has become a matter of increasing priority. Twaron SRM is a unique material providing superior protection against a broad array of weapons. It incorporates Twaron CT microfilament fabric with a functional silicon carbide coating that is bonded by a special matrix system.
The functional coating absorbs and dulls the thrust from the blade or needle, just as if it were solid rock. The energy from the impact is then absorbed by the high-impact resistance and tenacity of the Twaron para-aramid yarn in the fabric underneath. Thanks to the special matrix, the material is flexible and almost as soft as a non-coated fabric. This functionality is achieved by having a density that is only one-quarter of the standard steel used in stab protection.
Of interest to law enforcement is Teijin Aramid’s recent launch of the next generation of aramid fabrics. Tests of Twaron CT 608 fabrics have proven that it is possible to achieve up to 20-percent weight reduction of ballistic panels while giving the same ballistic performance/protection.
For example, on the average, combat troops are loaded down with approximately 132 pounds of clothing, weapons, protective gear, and other equipment. Police officers assigned to street patrol duties are weighed down, too. Every bit of weight they can be relieved of increases their mobility and reduces long-term stress on joints and backs, something that is important in high-risk situations.
In order to meet the ongoing need for increased protection at even lighter weights, Teijin Aramid has developed Twaron 550dtex f1000 yarn. This yarn, the world’s first ultra-microfilament p-aramid fiber, is thinner, yet provides more ballistic stopping power than any other p-aramid yarn on the market today.
Teijin Aramid’s Twaron 550dtex f500 yarn is already one of the most utilized products in the military community worldwide, but the next-generation Twaron 550dtex f1000 takes lightweight strength to a higher level. Each yarn consists of 1,000 filaments instead of 500.
Not only are the filaments 50 percent thinner, Twaron 550dtex f1000 also has a 10 percent higher breaking strength. This enables Twaron Ultra Micro to deliver significantly higher ballistic performance than other aramid yarns. This means, for example, the weight of a ballistic pack based on the new Twaron 550f1000 type can be reduced from 13 pounds down to 9 pounds while enabling the same protection level.
Lighter and thinner vests often have a trade-off in terms of back face deformation. With Twaron 550dtex f1000, it is possible to create thinner, lighter ballistic panels that still meet the requirements with regard to ballistic performance and back face deformation. Conversely, a product at the same weight incorporating Twaron 550dtex f1000 will perform significantly better both in terms of ballistic performance and reduced trauma.
Endumax Ultra-Strong Tape
Another product of interest to law enforcement is Teijin Aramid’s new Endumax ultra-strong tape because of the ballistic protection it offers. Endumax is Teijin’s newest high-performance material.
Weight-for-weight, Endumax is 11 times stronger than steel. It is made from a special type of UHMWPE in an environmentally friendly, solvent-free, patented process. This means that Endumax tape does not contain any additional processing aids or residuals from solvents.
Endumax UHMWPE products rely on a patented, unidirectional production technology to provide excellent structural properties for hard ballistic products. This makes it an ideal material for strongly shaped ballistic forms like helmets, insert plates, and protective panels.
When combined with light and flexible anti-ballistic protection products made from Twaron, Endumax lightweight plates enable ballistic protection gear to meet the highest demands in terms of protection, flexibility, and low weight. Endumax protective unidirectionals and composites have a very high degree of braking energy, resulting in a particularly high stopping power for bullets and fragments.
Water-Repellent Ballistic Fibers
Teijin Aramid now has new water-repellent treatments (WRT) for its ballistic fabrics to ensure the best performance level in wet conditions. Recently the company developed three improved WRT-recipes: C6-technology, C6 WRT-hard and Fluorine-free.
These options are more environmentally friendly than the WRT finish that has been used in the past. With extensive screening methods, Teijin Aramid developed a WRT recipe based on new technology that provides the excellent water and oil repellent properties of Fluorine-containing surface protection without impact on processability or the overall ballistic performance.
The company’s fluorine-free treatment ensures water-repellency on the same level without impact on the ballistic performance. The finish is more economical to use, and is based on chemicals considered to have very low hazard potential.
These three recipes have been checked for textile data as well as for wear resistance and stiffness, and have proven to work under industrial-scale conditions. In addition, very demanding ballistic testing has been used for both dry and wet conditions to prove performance is at least equivalent or superior to current technology.
New Twaron T765 Anti-Ballistic Spall Liner
A new fabric from Teijin Aramid, Twaron T765, offers cost-effective ballistic protection in military vehicles in high-threat situations, and also can provide protection for civilian vehicles against lower-level threats, especially in combination with steel, ceramic, aluminum, and titanium.
Spall liners (spall means to chip or splinter) give extra support to the outer faces of armored vehicles. In the event of an impact or explosion on the surface, they help to prevent or reduce fragmentation of the vehicle structure. This is important, as fragments flying around the interior can often cause more injury to passengers than the explosion itself.
Usually fabrics used for spall liners are woven structures. Twaron 765, however, uses warp-knitting technology. This state-of-the-art-process, which is also used to create advanced 3D glass-fiber constructions, results in a heavier, sturdier fabric. This means that fewer layers are needed to meet the high-ballistic specifications.
In addition, less material has to be purchased, processed, and treated during production. This can lead to substantial savings and enable more economical ballistic solutions, while delivering a high level of ballistic protection.
Twaron T765, combined with other materials, protects against bullets, fragments, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), mine blasts, and projectiles according to STANAG 4569, levels 1-4.
All told, Teijin Aramid is on the front lines of officer safety.
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.