Engineers have built a folding shield for use by law enforcement.
Mechanical Engineers at Brigham Young University have developed a new shield which takes inspiration from the Japanese art of paper-folding, origami. The shield is bullet-proof, light weight and can quickly be deployed to protect law enforcement from gunfire, providing stopping power against many different kinds of handguns.
“We worked with a federal special agent to understand what their needs were, as well as SWAT teams, police officers and law enforcement, and found that the current solutions are often too heavy and not as portable as they would like,” said Larry Howell, professor of mechanical engineering at BYU. “We wanted to create something that was compact, portable, lightweight and worked really well to protect them.”
The researchers who developed the new shield discovered that much of the shield technology that has been in use up until now really hasn’t changed much since the time of swords and suits of armor; they’re heavy, inflexible, cumbersome to carry around, and only protect one person. What Howell and his colleagues have designed however, is composed of 12 layers of Kevlar, protects up to three people, and weighs only 25kg, half of what some steel-based shields weigh. The origami pattern also folds out along the sides of the user, protecting them slightly from being flanked.
During trials, the shield stood up against bullets from 9 mm, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum pistols. “Those are significant handguns with power,” Howell said. “We suspected that something as large as a .44 Magnum would actually tip it over, but that didn’t happen. The barrier is very stable, even with large bullets hitting it.”
The researchers focused on making the barrier stable, while still making use of the flexibility of Kevlar. “It goes from a very compact state that you can carry around in the trunk of a car to something you can take with you, open up and take cover behind to be safe from bullets,” said Terri Bateman, BYU adjunct professor of engineering and research team member. “Then you can easily fold it up and move it if you need to advance your position.” At the same time, they focused on ensuring their design shielded the Kevlar from the environment, since the material is subject to fraying and can be affected by sunlight.
“There are a lot of risks to law personnel and we feel like this particular product can really make a difference and save a lot of lives,” Bateman said. “It makes us feel like we’re really making a difference in the world.”
Check out a video of the shield below: