Armor Technology, Blog

The Science of Graphene

Graphene is a material that is getting a lot of attention.  People are asking what is graphene, how can it be used, and what does it cost?  The purpose of this post is to discuss graphene in greater detail and provide answers to those questions.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a layer of carbon atoms that is one atom thick.  The atoms are arranged in a hexagonal pattern called a lattice.  You probably remember your #2 pencils having graphite in them.  It is an amazingly versatile substance.  Some even call it a wonder material with its seemingly never-ending list of properties and uses.

What is graphene used for?

As graphene is such a versatile material and has the ability to be combined with metal and gases, the applications are limitless.  There are scientists worldwide looking into what they can do with graphene.  Some common areas of research and application include antennas, batteries, body armor, computer chips, DNA sequencing, energy generation, solar cells, supercapacitors, touchscreens, transistors, and water filters.

Can graphene stop a bullet?

Yes, indeed it can!  Citizen Armor bulletproof vests function on this fact.  Our armor is designed to be a soft body armor option that benefits from graphene microfiber.  Layers of graphene sheets are positioned to provide NIJ Level 3A ballistic protection.  That means they can stop up to a .44 magnum.  While other types of armor can do the same, they weigh more and often cannot take multiple impacts.  One of our Citizen Armor vests, featuring our Protek graphene armor, has taken 113 bullets without penetration.  Check it out!

Is graphene stronger than a diamond?

Yes, it is.  Graphene is currently the strongest material that’s been discovered by science.  The atoms are so tightly bonded that it is stronger than diamond and 200 times stronger than steel.  Despite being that strong, graphene is also flexible and stretchable.  

Why is graphene not used?

There are applications where graphene would work, but due to its cost, it is not feasible. As technology advances in the production of high quality one atom thick layers of graphene, the costs will likely go down, and it will be used for a much wider range of applications. 

Graphene Price

One thing to keep in mind is that the quality of graphene affects the price.  Graphene oxide, which is easier to produce, is sold in a solution for about $120 USD for 250 mL.  According to Investor Intel, graphene sells for between $100 and $200 per gram.  

Citizen Armor offers body armor products featuring graphene starting at $99 dollars for a 7×10 inch bulletproof backpack insert.  For school or the office, we offer graphene armored bulletproof binders starting at $249.  Our bulletproof vests start at $599 for a fully concealable vest.

How To Make Graphene

Graphene can come in two forms, sheets and flakes.  Graphene sheets are more difficult to make, but they do lend themselves to higher-end fabrication processes.  The flakes by contrast are less costly to produce and are often used in electronics and sports equipment.  

Graphene sheets are produced via a chemical vapor deposition process.  This is achieved by combining gas molecules in a reaction chamber at room temperature.  The gas leaves deposits on a substrate and after the gases are removed from the chamber it leaves a sheet of graphene. 

Graphene flakes, by contrast, are much more simple to produce. Methane, which is rich in carbon, reacts with copper to produce graphene at high temperatures.  The copper is heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius and is then exposed to methane.  Graphene will form on the copper as a result of the heat.  

Graphene Properties

At one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest material that has been discovered by man.  It is 200 times stronger than steel.  In addition to being thin and strong, it is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, along with fascinating light absorption properties. 

Armor Technology, Blog

What Are Bulletproof Vests Made Of?

Bulletproof vests are made from a variety of high tensile strength fibers.  What is inside of a bulletproof vest depends on the manufacturer.  Manufacturers of bulletproof vests use various high strength materials, such as aramid fibers, carbon nanotubes, polyethylene and graphene microfibers. These fibers are combined into layers to increase the ballistic properties.  The polyethylene used in bulletproof vests is an Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE).  UHMWPE was originally developed to be used in replacing steel belts in tires.  This makes it a great material for bulletproof vests due to its strength and hydrophobic properties.  We’ve come a long way since the first bulletproof vests were made of silk.

Vests made with UHMWPE are not only waterproof but offer cost effective ballistic protection.  There are 5 levels of ballistic protection recognized by the National Institute of Justice. The levels are IIA, II, IIIA, III, and IV.  The lowest level of protection is a level IIA.  As the level of protection a vest provides increases up to level IV so will the quality of the materials, the weight, and the cost of bulletproof vests.

Level IIIA is currently the highest level of protection available in a soft body armor product.  Soft body armor is often preferred as it allows for a wider range of motion and weighs considerably less than hard armor plates.  This level of bulletproof vest is able to provide protection from virtually any handgun round.

Higher levels of protection such as III and IV are achieved with hard armor plates and are typically restricted to law enforcement and military units.  Common materials for these armor plates include steel, ceramic, and UHMWPE polyethylene.

Citizen Armor uses the cutting edge technology of Protek Armor.  Protek™ Graphene Armor features the industry leading performance of graphene microfibers which produce lightweight and ballistically superior soft body armor. 

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What Is The Best Bulletproof Vest?

What Is The Best Bulletproof Vest?

The best bulletproof vest is the one that fits your needs, budget, and will protect you or your family!  This isn’t a decision to take lightly and it is an investment in safety for uncertain times. There are a lot of factors to consider such as the level of bullet resistance, cost, durability, size, fit, mobility, comfort, and warranty.  Read below to decide what is the best bulletproof vest for you.

1. Is A Bulletproof Vest For Everyone?
2. The Cost Of A Bulletproof Vest
3. Buying The Right Size
4. Comfort Is Key
5. Mobility Matters
6. Bulletproof Vest Weights Vary
7. Should It Be Concealable?
8. Bulletproof Durability
9. Kevlar Bulletproof Vests
10. Bulletproof Rating Levels
11. Vest Warranties
12. Caring For A Bulletproof Vest
13. Need Help Choosing A Bulletproof Vest?

1. Is A Bulletproof Vest For Everyone?

When most people think of bulletproof vests or body armor they imagine police and military personnel.  In fact some are under the impression that it is only legal and allowed for those people to buy, own, or wear them.  Nothing could be further from the truth in the United States of America.  

The simple fact is that it is legal for law-abiding US citizens to purchase bulletproof vests.  Connecticut implements the toughest body armor laws out of all states in the US. Residents are prohibited from purchasing or selling body armor with the exception of face to face sale. It means that if you are selling body armor online, you are not allowed to sell to residents of Connecticut.  Anyone who doesn’t have a felony conviction is able to simply purchase a vest. The only other limitation on buying bulletproof vests is they must be purchased domestically. 

2. The Cost Of A Bulletproof Vest

There are many different types of bulletproof vests.  They range in quality, ballistic performance, durability, cost, and more. 

It is critical to choose wisely when you’re selecting a bulletproof vest.  While a lot of people search for cheap bulletproof vests, choosing to spend a little more for superior protection is well worth it.  

When push comes to shove, you should equip your family and yourself with quality products.  Some bulletproof vests just don’t hold up well even if they have a warranty. This is especially true if they don’t have waterproof capabilities, since danger doesn’t always just happen on sunny days. When the storms come, be ready with waterproof bulletproof vest options.

3. Buying The Right Size

The size of the bulletproof vest you choose is important.  The right size protects properly and it grants you better comfort and mobility.  Quality vest manufacturers offer various sizes to fit different frames of people.  In addition, the best bulletproof vest manufacturers produce specific female body armor vests.

You don’t want your vest to be too loose fitting.  While a loose vest may feel more comfortable, it will not protect as well.  Measure your chest and waist carefully when selecting your vest and use our Citizen Armor Sizing Chart for any of our soft body armor.   This will help you get the correct fit and best ballistic performance out of your bulletproof vest.

4. Comfort Is Key

There are soft body armor options and hard plate carriers.  The comfort of these vests will vary. Clearly soft body armor is going to offer you superior comfort.  This means you are more likely to wear the vest more frequently. 

Comfort also matters when it comes to your vest becoming a distraction. In a dangerous situation, you want your focus on survival, not any discomfort from wearing a hard armor plate.  

5. Mobility Matters

With advances in ballistic material research, quality threat level IIIA bulletproof vests offer superior comfort.  They are lightweight, flexible, and form fitting. If you’re wearing a vest that is too small or too large it will impact your mobility as well.  

During a crisis, your ability to move fast, kneel, crouch, run, or lay down all matter.  Your bulletproof vest needs to allow you to do this as well as possible. With a vest that offers better mobility, your ability to enter and exit vehicles quickly is improved. 

6. How much do Bulletproof Vests weigh?

The weight of your bulletproof vest has a huge impact on comfort and wearability.  With the advancement of ballistic materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene microfiber, bulletproof vests have become lighter weight.  

In a tactical situation, the heavier your gear is, the slower you will be.  Many body armor buyers ask, “Why is body armor so heavy??”  Some bulletproof vest companies produce Level 3A vests that weigh a whopping 22 pounds!  That’s like carrying around a 3 year old in the middle of a firefight.  In fact, these vests are so heavy that many owners wear them jogging as added weight to increase the difficulty of their workouts. 

Compare that to our range of lightweight body armor , which start at only 2lbs 2oz. Even our SHTF Tactical Bulletproof Vest weighs in at 10lbs 12oz in the largest size.  That means our heaviest tactical vest is less  than half the weight of the leading competitor while still providing the same level of protection.  So when choosing a vest, weight should be a big part of the equation. If a situation calls for running, jumping, or simply being agile, you will not want to be wearing a vest that limits your mobility by weighing you down.

While there is a balance between weight and protection, Protek™ Armor by Citizen Armor offers the lightest weight and threat level IIIA protection.  With our technologies, there is no reason to sacrifice either weight or performance!

7. Should It Be Concealable?

Every situation is different. If your vest is visible, an assailant may choose to target areas that are not protected by your vest.  Concealable bulletproof vests provide discreet tactical protection.  

There is also the appearance to consider when wearing a vest full time.  If you’re in an industry where a visible vest may cause panic or send the wrong message, concealable armor is the way to go.

8. Bulletproof Durability

There are many approaches to how bulletproof vests are made. Some focus on being cheap and selling a higher quantity of vests while others focus on performance and durability.  The materials used will affect how long the vest will last, how they absorb sweat, price, comfort, and maintenance.  

Citizen Armor offers vests in Standard and Elite options.  Our standard vest competes with the highest quality competitors with antimicrobial, sweat wicking, Protek graphene microfibers with aramid fibers (Kevlar) materials that boast a 5-Year Warranty.

Our Elite Armor offers superior durability.  We use the latest technologies such as graphene microfiber with polyethylene to offer a waterproof bulletproof vest option that is also impervious to UV light and the environment.  This level of durable protection has a 7-Year Warranty.

9. Kevlar Bulletproof Vests

Kevlar is a brand of aramid fibers and is combined with our Protek graphene microfibers in our Standard armor. Body armor with aramid fibers is the industry standard for soft or hard panels across various manufacturers.  While Kevlar is designed to be durable, it is not impervious to water, UV rays or the environment when used alone, and, it does wear out over time.  

Our Elite Armor outperforms Kevlar in terms of weight, ballistic performance, and it’s waterproof characteristics.  Consider carefully how you plan on using your vest and choose the correct level of protection for your needs.

10. Bulletproof Rating Levels

The NIJ (National Institute of Justice) uses an armor rating system which can be used as guidelines for choosing protection levels in soft body armor. These armor rating levels are I, II-A, II, III-A, III, AND IV. 

Every bulletproof vest is rated into 1 of 6 levels.  Each level has an additional A level modifier that indicates it performs a little better.   Level 1, the entry level, protects against low-velocity small caliber rounds. The highest level of protection is IV and is typically only used by the military. Citizen Armor provides level IIIA protection in soft body armor.

Bulletproof Vest Rating Levels

Choosing the protection level that meets your needs will help you manage the cost of providing body armor for yourself and your family.  

11. Vest Warranties

Like everything in life you must pay attention to quality and if a warranty is offered.  Vest manufacturers use a wide variety of materials in the production of their vests.  This and other factors mean that warranties will vary. Choose quality and either a 5-Year or 7-Year warranty vest from Citizen Armor.  

12. Caring For A Bulletproof Vest

Once you’ve got your bulletproof vest, caring for it protects your investment.  The better you care for your vest, the longer it will last and the better it will perform.  Even the latest and greatest materials must be cared for properly. Keep in mind that these materials are sensitive to bleach, dry cleaning, bar soaps, cleaning chemicals, and household detergents. Read our care and cleaning PDF here

Need Help Choosing A Bulletproof Vest?

Our team is impartial, experienced, and puts your needs first.  Allow the body armor experts at Citizen Armor to help you choose the best combination of performance, durability, cost, and application to fit your needs.  You can call us at 801-758-0588 or email at info@citizenarmor.com.

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