Fabrics and Textiles in the Military

With extremely dangerous and life threatening situations on the front line, the clothing and what soldiers wear is one of the first lines of defence they have. Fabrics need to be strong, reliable, durable and do their job on the battlefield.

Kevlar

With circumstances on the front line in many combat situations very risky and life threatening, body armor and protection is key for safety. Kevlar is a very strong para-aramid synthetic fibre used for body armour when it comes to military protection. It is a flexible and lightweight material allowing troops to move and carry their equipment with ease so they are not overwhelmed by the weight or movement restriction. It is 5 times stronger than steel although the price can be high due to the very high demand for it around the world. It is usually used for ballistic face masks, ballistic vests and combat helmets.

Coolmax

Coolmax is a type of fabric that is used to draw moisture from the skin when you are in very hot, tense situations. They are made in tetrachannel or hexachannel style and they cause capillary action which wicks away the moisture from your skin such as sweat. The moisture is then passed onto a larger surface area so the rate on evaporation is greater. As well as it being used for casual things such as bed sheets and extreme sporting clothes, it is used by the military for soldiers in very hot climates. The fabric is also very useful due to the fact that it doesn’t fade, shrink or wrinkle.

Meta Aramid

Meta-aramid, similar to Kevlar, is an extremely flame retardant material. It can even survive e temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius. It is stable from chemicals and can cope with high amounts of radiation as well as being very strong. Meta aramid can easily be dyed into many different colours. This is very useful for military clothing because, as well as being very strong, you are able to dye it so it blends in with the surroundings. Although the main use for the fibre is fire fighting, it is very useful on the battlefield.

Polyester

Polyster is a fabric made for extreme conditions. It is especially useful for troops in very wet and humid climates. In a wet area, cotton and wool would soak up all the water making it very uncomfortable for a soldier to walk around as well as cotton and wool being very weak. Polyester is the very opposite. Polyester is a strong and tough material used a lot in wet or swampy climates. Polyester is resistant to chemicals, stretching, shrinking and abrasion making it a very effective combat material. It is also very easy to wash and clean. Polyester is very strong and retains it’s shape making it a very useful fabric. Combat material is required to be tough and durable making polyester right for the job. It is very good at insulating so you stay warm when you are in bitter, cold, wet and windy climates.

Andy Morley works for Baltex, one of the UK’s leading technical textiles manufacturers. Baltex specialist in military textiles amoungst other industries such as areospace and motorsport.

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