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Project on developing armor using HMPE fibre
Dec '10
In order to explore potential for technical textiles, the MoT has awarded NITRA three projects on protective textiles for the year 2010-11. The project titles are Development of cut resistant & abrasion resistant protective textile by using composite metallic yarn, Developing shield of corn fabrics for enhancing the protection from flame, and Developing armor using hi-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) fibre. Scientists at NITRA have already started working in the above projects.

In the previous two issues of Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA) e-Bulletin, we apprised you about the first two projects i.e. project on cut resistant & abrasion resistant protective textile by using composite metallic yarn, and project on developing shield of corn fabrics for enhancing the protection from flame. In this particular issue that is the concluding part of this series, we present before you a brief highlight of the third project.

Title: Developing armor using Hi-Modulus Polyethylene (HMPE) fibre
Broad Subject: Improving strength properties
Duration: 18 Months

High-Modulus Polyethylene (HMPE) or Hi-Performance Polyethylene (HPPE) fibre is a sub set of the thermoplastic polyethylene. It has extremely long chains, with molecular weight numbering in the millions, usually between 2 to 6 million. The longer chain serves to transfer load more effectively to the polymer backbone by strengthening intermolecular interactions. Thus, a very tough fabric with very high impact strength can be produced by using this material.

It is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals. It shows yield strength as high as 2.4 GPa and specific gravity as low as 0.97. That is the reason it floats on water and is extremely durable. It has extremely low moisture absorption, has a very low coefficient of friction, is self lubricating, and is highly resistant to abrasion. It is spun through gel spinning. It is 15 times stronger than quality steel, and 40 times than Kevlar.

As a result, the fabrics made from High-Modulus Polyethylene fibre show excellent strength and durability used in armor and clothing for police and military personnel, cut resistance gloves and climbing equipments etc. It also provides puncture resistance to protective clothing in the sport of fencing. The threats coming from neighboring countries are increasing day by day.

Also the police and military personnel are being attacked frequently by terrorists and this always put their life in danger. Keeping in the view, a strong need is coming forward to save the life of our army and police personnel by making the fabrics which could always protect them. Stronger fabrics can be made by using fibres like High-Modulus Polyethylene. The properties of High-Modulus Polyethylene fibre and its blends with other fibres can be exploited for the current need in the area of defence.

Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA)

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