“The silk bullet proof armor is inspired by the ongoing unrest in the South border provinces and is the world’s first made for security”
On the 31st of August 2015 at 10:00 at Khon Kaen University a researcher event of August was held led by Asst. Prof. Dr. Rachapa Tangduangchai, Assistant to the President for Research and Technology Transfer and Asst. Prof. Dr. Panomkorn Kwakhong, Lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Khon Kaen University. The team together held a press conference under the name “Innovation research project for the development of silk bullet proof armor”. The media was present in large numbers at the Sirikunakorn conference room 4, Sirikunakorn building Khon Kaen University.
The research and innovation project to develop a silk armor is inspired by the ongoing unrest in the southern border provinces which has taken many lives of police and army personnel. The Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering Khon Kaen University together with Sutha Loyduanchai and the textile handicraft group of Puwiang Khon Kaen developed a silk bullet proof armor. The strength of the product is its durability; it can withstand repeated fire and its light weight as well as its low price which is 2.5 times cheaper than conventional bullet proof vests.
Asst. Prof. Panomkorn Kwakhong, lecturer at the Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering Khon Kaen University revealed that the silk armor is made by placing silk cocoons on a press to stretch it using a hydraulic press for 8 hours. The vest has a thickness of about 14 to 20 mm and weighs 2.5 to 4 kg (depending on the type and speed of bullet). The qualities of silk is that it is strong; more than 4.8 kilo Pascal (but when wet, the strength will be reduced by about 15 to 20 percent). And silk threads are very durable and can stretch up to 35 percent and can return to 92 percent of its original form.
It is found that silk has very much the same properties as steel and therefore, it is used to produce bullet proof material. When the production of the vest was completed the team of researchers tested it with real bullets which showed that the vest is able to withstand .22mm bullets from a distance of 3m. This is a level one protection according the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In addition, the bullet proof vest has other qualities which are its strength and its ability to take the impact of the bullet without destroying the vest protecting the body of the wearer from the deformation of the vest. The vest is also able to take repeated fire which does not deteriorate the quality of the vest. The vest is also light and cheaper than conventional vests by 2.5 times.
It has taken about 2 years to develop the vest during which the vest was made thicker with special threads which made it possible to withstand higher velocity bullets and which gave the vest a rating of 3A according to the NIJ standards (9mm size bullet at 426 meters per second). The silk bullet proof vest won the first prize in the Local Knowledge Innovation Project competitionin the Upper Isan region and is representing the area on national level on the 20th and 21st of July 2015.
The researchers have applied for Intellectual property and it is intellectual property of Khon Kaen University. Researchers are developing the thickness and weight of the product to make it thinner and lighter to be rated level 3 of the NIJ scale (withstands M16 bullets at 838 m per second) and benefit safety for society.
Interested parties can contact the Office of Research Administration, Office of the President building 2 Khon Kaen University tel 043 203176 or fax 043 203177 .
Jim Pascal: the unit of measurement in the SI system is used to measure pressure and is the force on a surface.
NIJ: National Institute of Justice: the oldest standard for bullet proof vests in the world
Author: Chiraporn Pratumchai
Photography: Thasee/Antaporn Hamporn