April 29, 2004

Liquid Body Armor


Army scientists are working on a liquid body armor for clothing that stays flexible during normal use but can harden to stop a projectile when hit suddenly.

But like most innovation, the military application is only the beginning.

Wetzel and Wagner are optimistic the liquid body armor will be useful to local police and prison guards and perhaps it could one day protect people in automobile and airplane crashes.
Posted by Ted at April 29, 2004 04:54 PM
Category: SciTech

So, does it loosen up after the initial strike? liquid clothing that goes rigid and stays rigid won't help someone who has been shot and is trying to find cover. Just a thought.

Posted by: Punch Buggy at April 29, 2004 11:00 PM

I would assume so, because like you said, it wouldn't really be practical otherwise. From reading the article, it appears to work on some level like a car's seat belt mechanism: move at regular speed and everything works, move quickly enough (impact) and it locks tight.

Posted by: Ted at April 30, 2004 05:21 AM

and eventually, i see this kind of armor replacing space suits. imagine having a lightweight space suit that could easily repair itself, then get ready for giant steps (are what you take, walking on the moon).

Posted by: chris hall at April 30, 2004 09:32 AM

I like thinking about the non-militant functions too. Batting vests for little league. Car upholstery (for car wrecks more than drive-bys). Work gloves for... hell, just about any job where you wear gloves. Protective blankets for construction. I really think that widespread use of armor in personal clothing and everyday items is going to be the next big technology change, now that information is out of the way. I think it will beat nano-technology (as an everyday item, not as a manufacturing component.)

Posted by: Phelps at April 30, 2004 02:48 PM

That's cool.

I wonder how this will work to protect joints. If the materials becomes stiffens when it becomes rigid, then snapping someone's arm or leg straight in a milisecond might be a really good way to snap aforementioned joint.

There might be a way to counterbalance the stiffness by using electrorehological fluids (ones that change viscocity when a current is passed through them). Basically as the material stiffens, one could up the voltage to increase viscocity and then slow down the stiffening response without affecting rigidity.

Beats me.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at April 30, 2004 06:38 PM

BRD your understanding of electrorheological fluids is impressive. and the joint protection isn't anything i believe anyone has considered previously but warrants consideration. the relaxation (like the initial response) is essentially instantaneous once the stress is removed from the system so it likely poses less of a problem than may seems at first evident but is nevertheless an interesting view

Posted by: John Mayner at July 9, 2004 04:11 PM
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