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Lightweight Kevlar bulletproof shield inspired by origami

Bulletproof shields used by law enforcement are usually flat, heavy plates that cover only one person, much like medieval knights wore, which make moving into position considerably more difficult. However, since a protective shield is necessary in cases where weapons are involved, engineers at Brigham Young University have developed a new type of shield that can protect up to three people, which is lightweight and folded like origami.

The aim of the project was to create a compact, portable, lightweight shield, and, most importantly, one that could protect the person sitting behind it. The result is a shield made of 12 layers of bulletproof Kevlar, with a layer of aluminium in the middle. It weights 25 kilograms (55 pounds), which is considerably less than the old shields that can weigh around 45 kilograms (100 pounds). However, because Kevlar is subject to fraying, abrasion, and is sensitive to sunlight and water, the team made a concentrated effort to reinforce it against the environment.

To make the shield compact, the engineers used a a specific type of origami, called the Yoshimura crease pattern, which was possible thanks to the flexible qualities of the Kevlar fabric. This type of origami was deployed because it creates certain angles that are effective for a barrier. The shield can be folded compactly enough to fit in the trunk of a car, while at the same time, it can be expanded easily to put up the shield. It provides protection from the front and the side.

One very important requirement of a bulletproof shield is that its, in fact, bulletproof. To test this, the shield underwent severe testing, in which it was found that it as able to stop bullets from 9 mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum pistols, while remaining stable.

The project is currently still in its prototype phase, but has already received many positive responses.

Photos: Brigham Young University