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Soft Armor: Less Weight, More Comfort

Posted by Mike Guarrera

Dec 8, 2014 4:16:00 PM

Firearms are one of the most dangerous threats faced by law enforcement personnel in the United States. In the last 30 years, soft body armor has saved the lives of more than 3,000 law enforcement personnel [1]. Many officers do not routinely wear their vests, noting that the vests are too hot, too heavy and too uncomfortable. Yet, in a report published by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), it is noted that officers are 14 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury when not wearing body armor. 



The average weight of a soft armor vest used by law enforcement is 6 pounds. Reducing this weight by even a couple of pounds could lead to higher usage rates among law enforcement and thereby allow 

more officers to return to their families after their shift. While soft armor has dramatically improved over the years, it has still not reached its optimal form. Improvements still need to be made to create ballistic protection that is light, flexible, breathable and comfortable, allowing for all-day wear without impeding the agility of the officer. 


Nanocomp has materials that can help armor manufacturers realize that optimal design. The company's carbon nanotube non-woven mats are currently in qualification for use in soft armor vests with promising results. Using only a few lightweight layers of Nanocomp's materials in a body armor vest enables to removal of other high performance materials making the resulting system 30% lighter and 20% thinner while offering equivalent ballistic performance. This means a 6-pound vest would now weigh a little over 4 pounds, while offering the same level of protection with less impedance to the movement of the officer. 


Nanocomp's materials can contribute to more life-saving products than just soft armor vests. Stay tuned to see what innovations the company's non-woven mats can bring to tactical plates and other hard armor applications. 


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Topics: lighweighting, armor

Lightweight: How Much is a Gallon of Fuel Worth?

Posted by Mike Guarrera

Sep 4, 2014 2:20:00 PM

According to Airlines for America®, U.S. passenger and cargo airlines require more than 18 billion gallons of jet fuel annually – that is more than 108 billion dollars a year based on today’s fuel prices. American Airlines tells us that one pound of weight removed from each plane in a fleet can mean 11,000 gallons of fuel saved each year for that fleet. It is no wonder that weight reduction is perhaps the single biggest challenge facing the aviation industry.



Let’s look at only one tiny component of an aircraft: data cables. In an airplane, such as a 787, there are miles of data cable, much of it not flight-critical (in-flight entertainment systems, seat-back systems, etc.). Say this translates to about 8,000 pounds of the total aircraft weight. What if these same data cables could be made to weigh only 2,400 pounds? That represents a potential fuel-cost savings of more than $30 million fleet-wide over one year. For an airline industry whose single largest expense is fuel, savings like this get attention.


What if this product already existed? And, in addition to saving weight, what if it offered a drop-in solution with tighter bend radius capability and a near infinite flex life? At Nanocomp, we are excited to offer a product that can support all of these important attributes and more. Data cables manufactured with our carbon nanotube (CNT) products offer a solution with a potential 70 percent weight savings over traditional copper cables as well as all the other benefits listed above.


In future posts, we'll be writing about other light-weighting, performance enhancing solutions that save fuel and reduce CO2 emssions for planes, trains and automobiles. 



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Topics: aviation, lighweighting, wire&cable

Part 2: The world's first commercial all-CNT sheets, tape and yarns

Posted by Michael Gurau

Apr 17, 2014 11:36:00 AM

In Part 1, Nanocomp’s advances at the CNT fiber level were discussed. In Part 2, these fibers are tranformed into Nanocomp’s macro-scale products


Nanocomp’s manufacturing process creates CNT macro-structures (e.g. sheets, tape and yarn) made from trillions of multi-millimeter carbon nanotubes (see Part 1, above). Products sold in these forms are used in a wide array of applications, with particular impact where weight savings, reliability and improved system performance are desired.


The Company’s ultra-light weight and multi-functional macro structures can enhance or replace incumbent forms made of metal (copper, aluminum, and other conductive and/or structural metals), carbon fiber, polymer composites (including aramids like Dupont Kevlar™ and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene), fiberglass and/or advanced ceramics.


For the first time  in history, carbon nanotube based products (Nancomp's sheets) are being used as a key enhancing material in ballistic protection systems--soft armor for  police, hard armor for soldiers. The Company expects to see its first major commerical order for hard armor by year end while its sheets for soft armor are being tested by leading armor integrators with weight savings up to 30%. These same sheets are showing outstanding performance for use as a honeycomb core structure, replacing incumbent aluminum and polymer composite variants in space and aviation systems. The sheets can also serve as a flame shield, a battery current collector (replacing copper and/or aluminum), and an EMI/ESD shield for aviation. 


CNT yarn used as the center conductor in a data cable offers equivalent performance to incumbent copper cables with an overall weight savings upwards of 40%. The CNT center conductor also offers a two orders of magnitude increase in strength, near limitless flex life as well as superior resistance to corrosion, temperature fluctuation, and radiation. The Company’s tape can concurrently serve as a replacement for traditional shielding materials in a wide variety of cable applications yielding >65% total cable weight saving.


The table below compares Nanocomp’s densified yarn properties against those for carbon fibers, aramids, aluminum, ultra high molecular weight polyethylene and other structural fibers.




Note that properties are as of the end of 2013.  We'll keep you posted on our progress but expect to see significant improvements across the properties of strength, electrical and thermal conductivity.


In summary, these are game changing advances in the raw material world. Never before in history of advanced materials has a nano material shown the breadth and depth of application as have Nanocomp's macro structures.


Having provided some background in the first couple of blogs on the  Company's fibers and macro structures, the next few blogs will detail some of these ground breaking applications.



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Part 1: Carbon Nanotubes: Long, strong and conductive fibers

Posted by Michael Gurau

Apr 3, 2014 1:54:00 PM

From this two-part post, you'll walk away with a working understanding of Nanocomp's breakthrough innovations at the nano-fiber level (Part 1) and at the macro-scale level (Part II).


Part 1: Carbon Nanotubes: Long, strong and conductive fibers 

Nano scale is considered to be in the range of 1-100 nanometers. A meter is 3.28 feet. One thousandth of a meter is a millimeter. One thousandth of a millimeter (a millionth of a meter) is a micron. A nanometer (nm) is one thousandth of a micron or a thousandth of a millionth of a meter—i.e. a billionth of a meter. 


Carbon nanotubes range from one nanometer to several nanometers in diameter. For comparison: the a thickness of a sheet of paper is about 100,000nm (or 100 micrometers), the width of your hair is about 40,000-80,000 nm, and the DNA in your cell is about 2 nanometers wide. 


what size is nano


Nanomaterials come in lots of flavors. Carbon (e.g. carbon nanotubes), silicon, and metal (e.g. silver nanoparticles) are just three examples of materials that have nano identities/manifestations. These nano forms have unique and differentiated properties from their non-nano variants—e.g. carbon nanotubes vs carbon fiber. 


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are microscopic fibers that look like porous straws and are consistently described, along with their sister carbon structure graphene, as the strongest, lightest and most conductive (electrically and thermally) material known to man. At the individual carbon nanotube level, these fibers are: 200X the strength and 5X the elasticity of steel; 5X the electrical conductivity ("ballistic transport"), 15X the thermal conductivity and 1,000X the current capacity of copper; at almost half the density of aluminum. Historically, commercial carbon nanotube makers  have produced and marketed short length fibers with limited properties and, in turn, limited applications and a hard to integrate raw material.  


Nanocomp’s CNTs are millimeters in length - 1000s of times longer than all other commercial CNT makers.  Greater length translates to greater strength, greater electrical and thermal conductivity, greater flexibility, greater manufacturability and outstanding safety.


Stay tuned for Part II.



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Topics: Carbon Nanotubes

Welcome to Nanocomp!

Posted by Michael Gurau

Mar 12, 2014 1:25:00 PM


In its tenth year, Nanocomp is solving structural, thermal and electrical problems using its sheets, tapes, and yarns. These macro-structures are made from the world's longest, safest and highest performing carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which are considered the strongest, lightest and most conductive fiber known. Having spent its first decade qualifying its materials in space, aviation and ballistic armor (which it continues to do), the Company is starting to scale to support volumes and costs that enable widespread adoption for transportationenergy, electronics, ballistic protection, and consumer products.  Nanocomp's historic innovation could save lives with ballistic and flame protection solutions, protect electronic systems from electromagnetic radiation, and save money by reducing weight in air, space and auto.


Over the coming blog posts, the Company will bring you insight into products, applications, and customer stories.  You'll also get a sense for what makes the Company unique and why some of the world's largest chemical, material, electronics, and industrial companies are evaluating and qualifying Nanocomp's materials to solve problems presented by metal, carbon and polymer composite incumbent materials. Be sure to subscribe to email updates so you will have access to new information as soon as it is published.


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