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Bullet-proof origami: folding Kevlar shield designed by BYU mechanical engineers

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Engineers from Brigham Young University have come up with a new shield design for law enforcement and military agencies, inspired by the Japanese art of origami. This collapsible shield can effectively stop bullets fired by handguns and revolvers, such as a 9mm, a .357 magnum and a .44 Magnum.

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The shield easily folds up like an umbrella, and can be deployed in as little as five seconds. Larry Howell, a mechanical engineering professor who led the research and design project, said, “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.”

Howell added that, “We wanted to create something that was compact, portable, lightweight and worked really well to protect them.”

Currently, the shields and barriers that police officers use are based on old designs that have never been modified. They are generally made of heavy steel, are large, flat and difficult to transport. Some even weigh as much as a hundred pounds, making them bulky to store in vehicles and cumbersome to deploy.

The origami shield weighs only 55 pounds, and is made from 12 layers of bulletproof Kevlar material with an aluminum core. The origami crease pattern of the shield allows it to fold into a smaller, more manageable size. The shield itself proved efficient at blocking bullets when tested, and was durable.

Howell also 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 barrier can also be used to protect children, as well as police officers, such as during shootings or emergencies. It is also large enough to shield multiple people from attacks, making it extremely efficient.


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