Origami Inspires Engineers to Design Bulletproof Shield for Police Officers

By Charles Omedo , Feb 20, 2017 03:47 AM EST

Engineers from Brigham Young University have developed a lightweight bulletproof shield to protect police officers from light and heavy bullet fires. The new bulletproof shield is able to resist pistol and revolver bullets such as the 9 mm, .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum. The engineers used Origami as the inspiration for their new creation, and the success has been overwhelming.

According to Professor Larry Howell, who participated in designing and developing the Origami-inspired bulletproof shield, they created the new shields in response to police needs. He said they interacted with police officers as well as SWAT teams and federal special agents to survey their topmost need. They came up with the need for a lightweight bulletproof shield.

Conventional police shields are heavy and cumbersome

The researchers found that police officers and SWAT teams find their protective shields heavy and cumbersome. The shields weigh about 100 pounds and made of solid steel. They can't protect two officers at the same time in the line of fire and not easily portable in any way, Tech Times reports.

This newly designed Origami-informed protective shield weighs 55 pounds, foldable into a portable size, and able to protect a number of officers from bullet-fire. The designers say it can be transported from place to place without any difficulties, and can be fully deployed within five seconds. It withstood a barrage of fires from 9 mm bullets and bigger bullets such as .44 Magnum without tipping over when hit.

It was made of Kevlar and reinforced against damage

The material used for this flexible and light fabric bulletproof shield is Kevlar, the Christian Science Monitor explains. "I think that if the test results hold up, this could be an important option for police departments to consider," said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, after watching video of the shield in action. The shield is still a prototype at the moment and when it will be developed into a real, usable bulletproof shield is unknown.

Meanwhile, the designers were able to discover that Kevlar materials are degradable by sunlight and water - causing fraying and abrasion. So they deployed solid reinforcement techniques to solidify it against environmental wear and tear or technical compromise. Before this time, researchers had used Origami as a model for designing robotic furniture and radiator systems for cooling satellites.

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