Drawing their inspiration from Japanese culture, more specifically the origami branch, a team of Brigham Young University engineers designed and subsequently built an origami-like foldable Kevlar shield that would offer protection to police officers in dangerous scenarios.
The shield has been tested and can efficiently deflect bullets fired by pistols and revolvers. According to one of the engineers involved with the project, Professor Larry Howell, he and his team worked closely together with law enforcement departments and SWAT teams to better understand their needs in the field. Upon analyzing their current defense systems, the team of engineers learned that the current shields the police force is using are too cumbersome, too heavy, and not portable. Coming in at roughly 100 pounds, the solid steel shields can only protect one person.
When transporting them, the Kevlar shields can be compactly folded. When the need arises, police officers can deploy them within five seconds. Moreover, the lightweight shields offer protection against 9 mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum rounds to two or three law enforcement officers. The shield is composed of 12 layers of bulletproof material and weighs only 55 pounds.
During the field tests, police officers suspected the shield made mostly of fabric would tip over at impact. However, shooting a .44 Magnum at it was not enough to send it flying. Engineers said that the Kevlar barrier was designed to be both protective and stiff, while also maintaining a certain degree of flexibility.
Furthermore, the structure was susceptible to damage from water and sunlight, as well as particular frail to abrasion. However, Howell and his team of engineers reinforced the shields against the environment. moreover, the Kevlar shield was designed to both protect the officers in a foreseeable scenario, as well as provide security in case of emergencies, such as injuries sustained by civilians or law enforcement officers during a hostage situation or school shootings.
Aside from police departments, other agencies turned to origami-inspired designs for multiple applications. For example, NASA employed the same paper-twisting technique when designing a radiator meant for cooling down satellites.
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