The trend towards high-performing, lightweight ballistic helmets

A LinkedIn article previously published by Andrew Beard, Sr. Account Manager, Personal Protection.

Over the past two decades, there has been significant interest from the U.S. Military and Governmental Agencies to increase protection levels while simultaneously reducing the weight of armor systems for military service personnel in high risk environments. In a kinetic situation, mobility and survivability are inextricably intertwined and individual armor systems directly impact both. Reducing weight, improving ergonomics and, most importantly, increasing survivability has been – and will continue to be – a key objective for procurement agencies looking at next generation ballistic armor solutions.

In a report studying the effect of weight on U.S. troops, the Center for a New American Security found that heavy loads affect situational awareness and decrease soldier performance by reducing cognitive and tactical performance and mobility – making weight reduction in personal armor systems, particularly ballistic helmets, a key focus area for material and body armor manufacturers. To address these needs, great strides have been made to increase protection levels and reduce weight, which demonstrates just how far material technology has advanced in a short period of time.

With the introduction of Dyneema® Force Multiplier Technology – specifically Dyneema® HB311 – ballistic helmets have been able to realize a 25 percent weight reduction when compared to competitive materials. These types of innovations have the base benefit of improving performance against various ballistic threats for helmet applications while yielding significant weight reduction; leading to reduced stress on the wearer, improved situational awareness and allowing for weight tradeoffs in different areas that have less ergonomical impact.

As material advancements and new processing capabilities improve, the trend towards high-performing, lightweight helmet requirements are expected to continue to drive innovation. New ballistic helmets have higher protection levels, more aggressive weight requirements and require new and more difficult processing techniques, including longer development times that are much more sensitive to manufacturing processes. With this expectation, material improvements and processing techniques need to be developed in coordination to meet these challenging demands.

DSM is uniquely positioned to address these needs through product innovation, material performance knowledge and processing know-how. By committing significant resources to material development and investigating the impact of processing techniques on performance, DSM remains at the leading edge of helmet technology. By supporting body armor manufacturers who want to push technology forward, DSM’s innovation and application development team can help shortcut development times and improve ballistic helmet performance to protect those who protect us against today’s advanced and emerging threats.  

Are you interested in learning more about how DSM can help improve ballistic helmet performance? If so, please contact me directly.

Andrew Beard
Senior Account Manager
DSM
Andrew.Beard@DSM.com

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