The SmartPro Project

The concept of the proposed project lies in the development of lightweight and flexible protective clothing, incorporating smart functionalities and designated for law enforcement authorities. Up to now, research on the protective gear of this group concentrated on the ballistic properties of the body armour. However, in spite of the improvements, modern body armours still have some of the same drawbacks as the old ones, as they are mostly heavy, bulky and rigid. Therefore they limit the wearer’s mobility and agility and are impractical for use on joints, arms, legs, etc. Moreover, body armours have traditionally been designed to protect the wearer against ballistic threats and, thus, they provide only a limited level of protection against knives, sharp blades or sharp-tipped weapons. Recent studies, however, reveal that stab and puncture have become a main cause of police officers' injuries. Therefore, there is an obvious need to develop materials that combine stab and ballistic protection, while retaining their flexibility and low weight.

In this context, the proposed project aims to develop optimized ballistic textiles (both woven and spacer knitted fabrics) and apply innovative surface treatments (e.g. shear thickening fluids, ceramic coatings) to improve their performance on an areal density basis. Thus, fewer fabric layers will be required, which is expected to result in increased flexibility and reduced weight of the armour. Main parameters to consider also include physiological comfort and ergonomic design.

Additionally, smart functions, including positioning systems, will be integrated to further increase the efficiency of the body armour, eventually leading to reduced casualties. Finally, while a main limitation is that existing protective gear is usually limited to the body armour, innovative solutions are herein proposed for the protection of vulnerable body parts other than the torso.