This Origami-inspired Bulletproof Shield Can Improve Law Enforcement Operations

Image Courtesy: BYU

A team of engineering professors and students at the Brigham Young University (BYU) have developed a foldable bulletproof shield that’s lightweight and compact but as durable as the existing steel-based models.

The team worked with law enforcement people to determine areas that need improvement in terms of equipment and technology. It turns out their bulletproof shields are too cumbersome and can only cover one person at a time. Something as crucial as this seems to have been left out by evolution that we’re still using the same structure used during medieval times. This weakness led the team to upgrade the shield’s capabilities.

The new shield’s design is based on a Yoshimura origami or diamond-shaped crease pattern, making it foldable and compact enough to fit in a car’s trunk. It can be easily deployed in a matter of seconds and provide the user enhanced protection against various types of handheld projectiles.

The origami shield is made up of 12 layers of Kevlar with a mixture of fiberglass panels and cloth. It’s reinforced with aluminum panels to give it shape and enable it to stand on its own. It also weighs only 55lbs – way lighter compared to the steel ones which weighs approximately a hundred pounds. This makes it easier for the user to advance position and move the shield in tighter situations.

The existing steel shields provide cover from only one direction. The prototype is more expansive and covers a wider angle than the steel models, putting up a wall of protection around the officer.

The innovative shield prototype has been put to the test and so far it’s working great. It was able to stop bullets from 9mm and .357 magnum pistols. The team was even astounded when it was able to hold itself against .44 magnum handguns, which are dubbed as ‘hand cannons’ because of their bigger ammunitions.

Aside from wear and tear, exposure to water and sunlight can damage Kevlar fabric. The team took this weakness into account and reinforced their prototype with additional layers of protection against environmental factors that can deteriorate the shield’s integrity.

According to the BYU team, the shield has a lot of other potential applications. For one, it can be used to protect the wounded during emergency situations. And with the alarming rise in school shootouts, this shield can be easily stored and deployed in each classroom to protect the children.

The prototype is still undergoing further tests before it’s deployed for actual combat. It’s not yet used by any law enforcement agency but it has already garnered positive responses from authorities present during testing.