Engineers Develop Origami-Inspired Bulletproof Shield To Protect Police Officers
It's foldable like origami, but it's as strong as Kevlar.
A team of engineers from Brigham Young University successfully developed an ingenious new bulletproof shield inspired by origami but which can deflect bullets fired by revolvers and pistols.
Professor Larry Howell, one of the engineers involved in the design, said they worked with a federal special agent, SWAT teams and police officers to understand what their needs were.
The group discovered that current shields are too heavy, too cumbersome and not portable. Indeed, current shields are typically made of solid steel, often weighing about 100 pounds. What's more, those shields are only large enough to protect one person.
Because of this, Howell and his colleagues set out to create a shield that was lightweight, portable and compact, and worked well to protect law enforcement.
Lightweight Bulletproof Shield
The new bulletproof shield developed by Howell and his colleagues can be folded compactly when not in use. It is also much easier to deploy and transport.
When expanded, which only takes five seconds, the bulletproof shield can offer cover for police officers and shield them from bullets such as the 9 mm, .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum.
This new shield is also lightweight, weighing only 55 pounds. It was built with 12 layers of Kevlar and a common creasing origami-like pattern, which makes it foldable into a more manageable size.
Testing The Shield's Efficacy
During tests, the bulletproof shield prototype proved to be surprisingly efficient. Howell said they suspected that a bullet as big as .44 Magnum would tip over, but it didn't happen.
"The barrier is very stable, even with large bullets hitting it," he said.
The prototypes were constructed to be protective and stiff, while maintaining the flexibility of Kevlar fabric. Since this material was sensitive to water and sunlight, as well as susceptible to abrasion and fraying, Howell and his team made sure to reinforce it against the environment.
Researchers believe their bulletproof shield will not only be efficient for law enforcement, but it can also be deployed in case of grave emergencies, including school shootings or when someone is injured during a hostage situation.
Aside from bulletproof shields, a lot of inventive objects have taken inspiration from the art of origami.
For instance, scientists from NASA and Brigham Young University have developed an origami-inspired radiator designed to cool down satellites. The radiator deflates or expands according to the temperature of the satellite.
There's also a novel line of robotic furniture with origami-like techniques. Developed by scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the robotic furniture can boost living spaces and save tons of spaces in apartments.
Watch the video below.