Active Protection System

February 3, 2009
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Smart impact-protection textile

Dow Corning’s Active Protection System is a “smart” textile that remains soft and flexible until it is struck by high-impact force, in which case the material instantly stiffens to help protect against injury. When the collision has passed, the material immediately becomes flexible again.

The active ingredient in the fabric is a dilatant silicone coating, which is a shear thickening fluid (STF). The viscosity of this coating increases with the rate of shear, therefore defining it as a smart material as it responds to changes within its environment.

The Active Protection System is breathable and flexible for outstanding comfort and freedom of movement, and it can be stitched directly into garments, eliminating the need to insert and remove components. It is less bulky than hard armor, allowing for many creative and fashionable design possibilities. The washable fabric can be layered to provide customized levels of protection for specific areas, and it integrates easily into existing manufacturing processes.

Independent testing shows that the Active Protection System exceeds certain European standards’ impact protection requirements for sports apparel by as much as 40 percent. The fabric’s superior effectiveness is due to its ability to both absorb and distribute impact force, providing protection that is activated earlier and lasts more than twice as long as rigid protective systems.

Contact: Dow Corning, Midland, MI, USA.

For more information, see Transmaterial 2: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine our Physical Environment

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