In part due to the internal structure, whereby the molecules are arranged in parallel lines, and in part because its fibers are knitted very tightly together. Kevlar is a proprietary material and there is only a single company that currently makes it – the DuPont™ chemical company.
There are a couple of main varieties known as Kevlar 29 and Kevlar 49, though there are also other varieties which are processed for special applications. Kevlar is known as a synthetic aromatic polyamide. A complex name indeed, and one that may only be understood by chemists and really geeky folks. Nevertheless, this complex name is relatively easy to simplify:
- Synthetic: Made in a chemical laboratory as opposed to something like cotton which grows in trees
- Aromatic: The molecules are arranged in a ring-like structure similar to that of benzene but fortunately not nearly as flammable
- Polyamide: The aromatic ring-like molecules form long chains by connecting together. These lengthy chains run inside the Kevlar fibers which generate something akin to the steel bars that can be seen within concrete structures such as buildings and bridges
Kevlar is in fact similar to nylon which was also developed by the DuPont™ chemical company back in the 1930s. It was first introduced in 1971 and was used during the 1980s in bulletproof vest production, given that it was extremely strong, but there were downsides as you’ll see in a moment.
The Kevlar Vest for Bullet Proofing
In the 1980s, the PASGT Kevlar bulletproof vest was issued by the U.S. military, which was rated at NIJ level IIA. These days, NIJ level IIA is not widely available as it lacks a certain adequacy that’s required for bulletproof clothing.
This bullet proof vest was capable of stopping both pistol rounds and fragmentation, but not particularly effective against rounds shot from a rifle. Although it was relatively comfortable to wear (other than its rigidity), offered user flexibility and was lightweight, it did have certain shortcomings on account of its inability to protect against blunt trauma injuries from high velocity bullets or larger fragments. These blunt trauma injuries frequently proved life-threatening.
From the 1970s onwards a number of new fibers as well as different methods of construction for bulletproof fabrics have been developed other than that of woven Kevlar. These include Honeywell’s Gold Flex and Spectra, DSM’s Dyneema, and Toyobo’s Zylon, to name but the three.
These materials are thinner, lighter, and offer more resistance than Kevlar vests but with a downside – they are far more costly to manufacture and thus to purchase.
Where to Buy a Kevlar Bullet Proof Vest?
Though you can still buy Kevlar vests for sale, they are not widely available.