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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