He says that some ballistics manufacturers are using a combination of composites like AuTx with HMWPEs either through interweaving or within the laminate system to provide armor with the advantages of both materials.

Creating New Opportunities

Composite ballistics have found new markets as organizations become increasingly concerned about threats from terrorists and active shooters.

Southern States LLC is manufacturing ballistic composite protective walls and barriers (Ballisti-Wall® and Ballisti-Cover®) to help defend and camouflage utility substations and other critical facilities and equipment. PolyOne Advanced Composites produced the continuous fiberglass composite panels (branded Glasforms®) for this application. “We’ve developed a variety of ballistic-resistant products that all share a common attribute: very low weight for a high threat protection level,” says James Stephenson, general manager of Glasforms. The Glasforms materials, which are easy to install and transport, provide both high energy-absorbing properties for blast protection and ballistic protection for threats ranging from 9 mm handguns through 120 mm mortar rounds.

“Compared to traditional materials such as concrete and steel, advanced composites allow for faster and lower-cost installations for applications not previously served by these materials,” says Stephenson.

Interior design is another new market, according to Wagner. Some embassies are looking at lightweight, movable panels that can serve both as room partitions and also as shields for a first line of defense. People are also using ballistic composites for items like brief cases, clipboards and even whiteboards in classrooms. In an emergency, the whiteboards could be placed over doors or windows to provide some protection against someone trying to shoot into a classroom.

Ballistic composites have helped turn one entrepreneur’s ideas for an indestructible shelter for tornado zones into a reality. Wes Kouba, president of Buckeye Springs LLC, developed the concept for the Tornadopod after seeing the devastation wrought by twisters in Alabama and other southeast states.

The Tornadopod fits within a 5 x 5-foot space in a yard and can shelter up to six people. Almost half of the six-foot tall structure is buried in the ground, secured by 12,000 pounds of concrete. A 3.5-foot dome, comprised of a steel pipe safety cage and ballistic shield, sits above the surface. The dome shape prevents some debris from accumulating on top of the structure, but if debris does hinder the door from opening, occupants can release its hinges from the inside, providing another means of exiting.

ballistic-wall-tornadopod

Walls made from ballistic composites can provide another level of security for utility substations and other essential infrastructure equipment. Made by Southern States with PolyOne Advanced Composites’ Glasforms® composite, the wall panels are lighter to transport and easier to install than similar panels made from concrete or steel. Photo Credit: PolyOne Advanced Composites