A blogsite not for me to bloviate; but for me to share my origami videos with the origami community. I am affiliated with the Westcoast Origami Guild, Pacific Ocean Paperfolders, Origami Paperfolders of San Diego, Origami USA, and the Origami Interest Group (Origami-L/O-List).
The device, developed by Brigham Young University—a private research university in Utah—is a foldable kevlar shield designed to protect officers in high-risk situations. The foldable shield weighs only a little bit more than a suitcase and is made from 12 layers of bullet-proof kevlar. Its folding design was also inspired by origami.
Despite its low weight, the shield is capable of stopping a .44 Magnum, 9mm, and .355 Magnum, according to reports. We will keep you posted on whether or not departments start implementing this device.
When mechanical engineering professor Larry Howell began work on a new ballistic shield, police officers told him that their current gear was “kind of medieval.”
“Most of them are still basically just … a big chunk of steel with handles on it, and so they tend to be very heavy,” he tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. Many of them weigh nearly 100 pounds.
But a new folding kevlar shield, developed by Professor Howell, his colleague Terri Bateman, and other faculty and graduate students at Brigham Young University, weighs 55 pounds, fits in the trunk of a car, unfolds in seconds, and covers more than one officer. It can also take a hit from a .44 Magnum handgun without ripping or tipping over.
Together, these features could make the shield much better-suited to police work than current technology.
“It's easily transportable, and it provides protection for more than one officer,” says Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, after watching video of the shield in action. “So I think that if the test results hold up, this could be an important option for police departments to consider.”
The BYU team derived these advantages from an unlikely source. “Origami artists, over the centuries, had discovered interesting ways to achieve motion that we wouldn't have discovered using our traditional engineering approaches,” Howell explains.
His past work has used origami techniques to shrink NASA payloads and medical devices. Through discussions with federal agents and local police, “We realized that having a compact bulletproof barrier that's easy to transport, easy to stow, and then deploys very quickly, and is light, has a lot of benefits.”
“It seems kind of weird that you could go from origami … to something that's bulletproof,” Howell acknowledges. But by applying a Yoshimura fold pattern to a sheet with 12 layers of Kevlar – plus an aluminum core for stability – the researchers created a shield that can withstand hits from 9-millimeter, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum pistols.
A federal agent involved in the testing “said that it was revolutionary,” Howell remembers.