Research chemists at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed and patented a transparent thermoplastic elastomer armor to lower weight, inherent in a lot of bullet-resistant glass, while maintaining superior ballistic homes.
Thermoplastic elastomers are soft, rubbery polymers converted by physical means, rather than a chemical process, to a solid. Subsequently, the solidification is reversible and allows harmed armor surface areas to be fixed ‘on-the-fly’ in the field.
” Heating the material above the softening point, around 100 degrees Celsius, melts the little crystallites, allowing the fracture surfaces to meld together and reform through diffusion,” stated Dr. Mike Roland, senior researcher, NRL Soft Matter Physics. “This can be achieved with a hot plate, akin to an iron, that molds the freshly forming surface into a smooth, flat sheet with minimal result on stability.”
Already, NRL researchers have evaluated the use of polymeric products as a coating to accomplish improved impact resistance of difficult substrates. Applying polyurea and polyisobutylene layers boost the ballistic performance of armor and helmets, and accomplish higher ballistic efficiency and mitigation of blast waves.
By using a variation of employing thermoplastic elastomers, NRL scientists are able to recreate remarkable ballistic properties of polyurea and polyisobutylene coatings, with the added advantage of the product being transparent, lighter than standard bullet-resistant glass, and repairable.
“Because of the dissipative homes of the elastomer, the damage due to a projectile strike is restricted to the effect locus. This implies that the affect on presence is practically inconsequential, and multi-hit protection is achieved,” Roland said.