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The Military Science Technology Hardware

Scientists Turn T-Shirts Into Body Armor 213

separsons writes "Scientists at the University of South Carolina recently transformed ordinary T-shirts into bulletproof armor. By splicing cotton with boron, the third hardest material on the planet, scientists created a shirt that was super elastic but also strong enough to deflect bullets. Xiaodong Li, lead researcher on the project, says the same tech may eventually be used to create lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aircrafts."
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Scientists Turn T-Shirts Into Body Armor

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  • Blankman (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:11PM (#31803750)

    Blankman is real!

    For those of you who don't understand the reference:

  • Re:How elastic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:28PM (#31803848)

    Actually the elasticity of these things change with the among of force applied. When you try to punch these things hard (just like a bullet does) they seem to rigid. But when you try to handle them with less force, like try to slowly pull or push them (just like when you try to wear them), they seem to be really elastic.

    Sounds similar to the way a cornflour and water mixture [] works.

  • Re:How elastic? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:08PM (#31804482) Journal
    "hope is to make lightweight vehicles"
    South Africa had them for years via its many years of bush wars.
    The main change is BAE is selling real tech to the world based on its new licensing deals.
  • Re:How elastic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Terminal Saint ( 668751 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:40PM (#31804706)
    Penetration obviously isn't ideal, but having the bullet contained by the shirt would still be a preferable outcome to outright penetration. One of the reasons the Mongols wore silk armor was that when struck by an arrow, the arrow would often fail to pierce the silk. This made removing arrows much easier and cleaner, which meant less downtime for wounded fighters.
  • Re:How elastic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LBt1st ( 709520 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:15AM (#31804910)

    This would have more uses then just people getting shot at. Anyone who may take a blow from something could benefit. Like construction workers, police, perhaps animal handlers, motorcyclists.. If they make gloves there would be even more uses.

  • by RedShoeRider ( 658314 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:30AM (#31806726)
    I think there's a good deal of misunderstaning about bullet resistant soft body armour on here. I've seen two posts so far that say that the shape of the bullet has something to do with defeating a vest, as well as a bullet being "tangled up" by the material. Neither is true.

    Bullet resistant soft armour works because of the strength of the individual fibre and how its woven. It also has to do with the friction coefficicent of each fiber. Generally, it's woven in a waffle or checkerboard pattern for each layer. There are lots of layers, too...20 or 30 is common. When a projectile strikes the fabric, the crossed fibers lock against each other (this is where the friction coefficient comes in. Two Kevlar fibers crossed at 90 degrees will not want to move). So, in theory, one layer could stop a low-energy bullet. However, it would still be fatal to the person wearing it because of the amount of energy transferred to them. So, by using multiple layers, that .38 or 9mm round's energy is spread out over perhaps 5 or 6 inches. It's still going to hurt like hell, but you'll live to tell the tale. Current NIJ spec for the backface deformation of a vest is something like 12" of clay, which translates to something like 4 or 5 inches of compression in a human. It's like getting hit with a baseball bat swung by a AAA player.

    So why does bullet shape have little to do with it? Even a pointed bullet deforms on impact; the sharp point isn't going to get through more than a layer or two before it deforms flat. The threat rifle rounds offer is that there is just vastly more energy then a pistol round. All of these materials have a failing point, and even if the bullet was stopped, the amount of energy transferred to the wearer might be lethal anyway. That's why rifle-rated vests (something to stop a .223 or a 30-06) have trauma plates, which is a 1/4 inch (or thicker) ceramic plate. It's heavy, uncomfortable and unbendable, but it'll stop just about any reasonable threat.

    Sure, we could come up with a list of unreasonable threats, but in reality most shootings are with lower energy handgun calibers (9mm/38spl/25acp/32acp), which a standard IIA vest will stop without breaking a sweat.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury