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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the reply to the Zylon Vest Failure issue that has been going on for a while. I just got this from PACA when I inquired about my PACA vest that is less than one year old...what a crock! Funny how all the Zylon comes from one manufacturer, but some companies have recalled it bc the basic material Zylon is faulty while some other companies just say nothing is wrong. How many more cops are going to have to get shot wearing these vests and have the bullets go through... No more PACA or Point Blank vests for ME!

Dear Law Enforcement Professional,
Recently, questions have been raised concerning the safety and reliability of Zylon® ballistic fabrics that are used in the manufacture of body armor. Zylon® is a high molecular weight p-phenylene-2 6-benzobisoxazole (PBO) fiber that is manufactured by Toyobo. The fiber is one of the strongest fibers in the world, and most armor manufacturers incorporate it into body armor products to provide you with comfortable, wearable armor.
The Issues
In 2001,Toyobo first reported a loss in Zylon® fiber tensile strength when exposed to extreme environmental conditions of high temperature and high humidity. Although Toyobo did not translate this loss of tensile strength to ballistic performance, the report created concern both in the law enforcement community as well as the body armor manufacturing community.
Recently, a major body armor manufacturer reported an “unexpected decrease in ballistic performance” of some of their products manufactured with a Zylon® fabric. That same manufacturer said the testing they conducted was “inconsistent” but still reported that it would discontinue the production and sale of those models offering an upgrade or low cost replacement for those that were already in the field.
Both of these reports raised concerns for law enforcement and the manufacturing community.
The Situation
After the initial Toyobo report, The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) initiated an independent research program to study and report on the effects of environmental conditions upon the ballistic protection of personal body armor. The study would investigate the most popular ballistic fibers, which include Kevlar®, Spectra® and Zylon®. This study is in its final stage and the report is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2004.
Toyobo has now released a report of ballistic (V-50) testing of Zylon® fabric. They compared fabric aged in their warehouse over a three-year period to newly manufactured fabric. Although the aged fibers in the older fabric still showed the originally indicated loss of tensile strength (some of which can be considered a normal result of ageing), the effect on the overall ballistic properties of the Zylon® fabric was not statistically significant over the three-year period when comparing the ballistic performance of aged material with the new.
PACA has always conducted ballistic testing of our products to assure the integrity of our designs. In an effort to address the rising concerns of our customers on the Zylon® issue, we recently conducted a series of ballistic tests on one of our older Zylon® hybrid systems. The test samples had been stored in a warehouse in a non air-conditioned environment where the peak average temperatures and humidity cycled to the normal extremes. (83 degrees F and 85% relative humidity.) The exposure to these conditions exceeded those in the Toyobo testing. The test vests were manufactured in 2000 and were exposed for more than 730 days. The results of our testing showed no material statistical deviation from the results of comparable testing done on newly
Protective Apparel Corporation of America, Inc.
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manufactured hybrid vests. We will continue to test vests and various materials and work closely with our material suppliers, sharing information and coordinating our efforts to solve problems if they arise.
Engineering And Quality
PACA engineers its ballistic package designs to minimize the potential long-term negative effects of ballistic materials by shielding the material from UV degradation as well as humidity by sandwiching the ballistic elements in a water and UV repellent material. Additionally, PACA has designed its Zylon ballistic packages as hybrids, utilizing other materials like Kevlar, Spectra and Gold Flex in addition to Zylon in an effort to optimize performance and enhance the comfort and ballistic properties of the vest. Our Zylon hybrid vests contain 20-50% Zylon fabric. If there were loss of ballistic strength, then it would likely be a function of the combination of loss from each component.
It has always been the PACA philosophy to engineer our armor systems with an additional margin of safety. This margin of safety takes into consideration the normal wear and tear that an armor system is exposed to over the years, assuming that the armor system is cared for in a responsible manner. Quality control lot testing of incoming ballistic materials as well as systems integrity testing is a continuous process. This is done to insure officer safety.
Based upon our testing as well as Toyoboʼs recent findings, PACA continues to have the highest degree of confidence in our products. We have seen no statistically significant ballistic degradation in our Zylon hybrid products. We will continue our testing programs, which will include vests that have been in service and worn for a number of years.
We would like to again assure our customers that we are aware of your concerns and will continue to pay close attention to the situation.
We must remember, that body armor is not “bulletproof”, it is bullet “resistant.” Those who suggest otherwise are doing the law enforcement community an injustice. The NIJ 01.01.04 Body Armor Certification Standard sets forth a stringent testing program protocol. The bullets and velocities used in the certification testing were selected after many months of study with the consensus of the law enforcement representatives who are members of the National Armor Advisory Board.
Although most manufacturers warranty their armor for a 5-year period, it is imperative that police departments and other end users follow recommended standards for storage, care and maintenance of body armor, and establish and follow procedures for the periodic inspection, evaluation for the replacement of body armor. The evaluation should take into account changes in service ammunition or service weapons, changing street threats, changes in the body shape of wearers, unusual wear, as well as technological obsolescence. No vest will last forever, and factors other than the properties of constituent materials will often dictate that new vests are needed to provide appropriate protection to the wearers.
PACA has a history of commitment to officer safety. Our reputation as a provider of innovative body armor to the law enforcement community since the 1970ʼs is something we are proud of.
Protective Apparel
Corporation of America
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