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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Armored Up With Textiles

ArmorWorks LLC's ballistic armor systems combine TechFiber LLC's textile composites with ceramic material to protect personnel and vehicles from explosives and arms fire.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Associate Editor

S o, what’s a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle — a.k.a. HMMWV or Humvee — doing on the exhibition floor at a textile trade show?

Well, if the Humvee is at Techtextil North America (TTNA), it’s showing off the engineered ballistic composite components that can protect it from small arms fire, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other like hazards encountered in combat. The highly specialized textile application is just one of many that will be on view at the biennial North American edition of Techtextil, International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens, taking place April 1-3 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.

ArmorWorks LLC and its subsidiary, TechFiber LLC, both based in Phoenix, will be exhibiting the Humvee as well as the cab of a M915 A2/A3 truck, another military tactical vehicle, fitted with ArmorWorks’ battle-tested Ballistic Advantage Kit at this year’s TTNA. According to ArmorWorks — a designer and manufacturer of body, vehicle, aircraft and marine armor — the kit, featuring the company’s C2 (ceramic/composite) technology, offers the lightest-weight armor available, comprising a ceramic material covering an aramid fiber composite branded as T-Flex® HA (hard armor) and manufactured by TechFiber — a developer of fiber-reinforced unidirectional composites for ballistic and other protective applications. The modular system includes components for all parts of the vehicle, including cabin and rear saloon doors, windshields, underbody, bed and tail gate, and turret and gun mounts.

ArmorWorks’ easy-to-install Ballistic Advantage Kits provide lightweight, highly effective ballistic protection for military tactical vehicles, such as the Humvee and others, as well as commercial and police vehicles.

According to Miles Rothman, general manager, TechFiber, the Flex-Tech™ engineered composite construction comprises unidirectional layers laid at cross directions and laminated together with layers of thermoplastic polymer between and around them. “It’s better than a traditional woven fabric because you don’t have any yarn crimp, and by having it smooth or uniform, it has better back face protection, which means a bullet won’t travel as far back in the package as with a woven material,” he said.

“This armor exceeds IED specifications,” said Robert Codney, vice president of business development, ArmorWorks. “The US Army took the HMMWV onto the streets of Al Fallujah [Iraq] where actual IED attacks resulted in only minor abrasions to the troops using this armor.”

Rothman said TechFiber also will unveil a flame-resistant composite at TTNA that will enhance the heat-resistant properties in ArmorWorks’ armor products.

“By showcasing such a relevant end-use, we are hoping to grow the awareness of what the high-performance materials exhibited at Techtextil are capable of,” said Stephanie Everett, group show manager — textile shows, for TTNA organizer Messe Frankfurt Inc., Atlanta. “It is an honor for us to have the ArmorWorks team joining us this April, and we believe that the display will be of great interest to our attendees.”

March/April 2008