Research chemists at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed and patented a transparent thermoplastic elastomer armor to reduce weight, inherent in most bullet-resistant glass, while maintaining superior ballistic properties.
Thermoplastic elastomers are soft, rubbery polymers converted by physical means, rather than a chemical process, to a solid. Consequently, the solidification is reversible and enables damaged armor surfaces to be repaired ‘on-the-fly’ in the field.
Applying polyurea and polyisobutylene layers enhance the ballistic performance of armor and helmets, and achieve greater ballistic effectiveness and mitigation of blast waves.
By using a variation of employing thermoplastic elastomers, NRL scientists are able to recreate superior ballistic properties of polyurea and polyisobutylene coatings, with the added benefit of the material being transparent, lighter than conventional bullet-resistant glass, and repairable.