USAF Academy develops new body armor material

@berkeman I'm not a chemist or engineer or materials scientist or anything like that, so I'm asking for more qualified people's thoughts on it because I'm trying to learn, not give my own uneducated opinion. But if I had to come up with some specific questions, I suppose I'd ask about non-Newtonian fluids in general, like how they work and how else they can be used, and if they've ever been used in armor before.
 
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It is interesting, but I will point out that it has only stopped hand gun bullets so far. Hand gun bullets are of low velocity and very low cross sectional density. There are plenty of cheaper and easier to carry methods of stopping bullets. Kevlar vests do that without any non-Newtonian fluid.

I am having a hard time seeing the advantage in performance or logistics that this idea has when compared to a standard Kevlar vest. If it could stop actual rifle ammunition, it would be advantageous relative to the steel or ceramic level III and IV body plates. However, this can only stop pistol ammunition. This is a gimmick, in my opinion. USAF probably does not care about this technology. This was pursued, most likely because their PR/HR/Journalists thought that it would make a good story for their website.

As far as I can tell, this brings no actual demonstrable advantage over a standard Kevlar material. Most people are capable of combining materials that can stop 44 magnum bullets. There are lots of youtube videos of people making different types of body armor and stopping bullets that are actually good at barrier penetration (44 mag is one of the least capable rounds for defeating any sort of armor).

There have been a few experiments with non-Newtonian fluids for stopping bullets. The amount of fluid that would be needed to stop even small arms fire would be absurdly large. It might be easier to bring your own hill around on a pallet and hide behind that pile of dirt than it would be to use non-Newtonian fluids as armor against even a common civilian's 30-06 deer hunting rifle.

When it comes to cost vs. weight vs. actual protection that you get: This is 50 steps behind AR500 steel.
 
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before this get out of hand !!! check out DRAGON SKIN- and no you wont find hobbits.
 
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Dragon skin fails all of the standardized testing conducted by the U.S military for armor. If you are interested in the armor technology that has the best cost/weight/protection characteristics, then here you go.

These products represent the industry standard. $155 for a level IV plate, and you can stop a .30 caliber tungsten-core AP bullet fired from a 30-06. If you find a fundamentally cheaper way to do that without adding weight to the armor, then you better get a patent on that before you even tell your wife.

http://www.ar500armor.com/ar500-armor-body-armor/level-iii-lightweight-body-armor.html

http://www.ar500armor.com/ar500-armor-body-armor/level-iv-body-armor.html
 

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