In contrast to the male body armor, problems are encountered with the manufacture of female body armor due to the curvaceous shape of the female body (Chen and Yang, 2010a). This garment has the purpose of protecting women’s torsos, particularly the women who are involved in military or law enforcement activities.
In the female body armor that Sirvart Mellian invented (Mellian, 1980), the contoured front protective armor panel was composed of multiple superposed layers of ballistic-resistant plies of fabric that was made of aramid polymer yarns. The contour was obtained through the overlap of the seams that joined two side sections to the panel’s central section, causing the front protective armor panel to be contoured to the bust’s curvature. This provided the wearer with comfort and ballistic protection.
Another type of female body armor was invented by Hussein and Parker (2001). It was made of multiple layers of laminated woven structure that was ballistic-resistant and that was molded to conform to a female torso. The molded shape of this garment could be retained, which provided the wearer with ease of movement and increased comfort. The base functional layer of this garment was made of a three-dimensional woven material and a thermoplastic material was used for fusing the three-dimensional woven material’s fibers together in order to enable improved handling during the material’s lamination and increased ballistic resistance during the garment’s use.
Compared to the fabrics used in early inventions of female body armor that made use of laminated woven structures for resisting the penetration of high impact and high velocity projectiles and that made use of thermoplastic materials and resins for providing overall structural cohesion and interstitial strength, the invention of Hussein and Parker made use of a three-dimensional woven material that was used as a functional layer and substrate of a ballistic protective material that could be molded and used to protect parts f the human body. Unlike the types of materials previously used, which caused problems with fit and comfort, the materials used by Hussein and Parker were capable of being molded and of retaining the molded shape to provide the wearer with ease of movement and increased comfort.
On the other hand, Chen and Yang (2010a) proposed the use of angle-interlock woven fabrics as an alternative to the conventional plain woven fabrics in the manufacture of female body armor. It is capable of being molded without the need for folding or cutting and has the same ballistic-resistant capabilities as do the conventional fabric constructions that are used for body armor (Chen and Yang, 2010a). As such, Chen and Yang (2010a) went further to develop a mathematical model for the molding of angle-interlock fabrics in order to enable the quick creation of female body armor. This model took the bra size and the body size as the inputs and gave the profile of the female body armor’s front pattern as the output (Chen and Yang, 2010b).
Similarly, mathematical modeling was used for various types of three-dimensional weaves due to the complexity of their designs, given the complexity of their shapes and micro structures (Chen, 2011). These mathematical models were also successfully used in the development of CAD and CAM software for three-dimensional fabrics.
Chen, X. (2011). Mathematical modeling of 3D woven fabrics for CAD/CAM software. Textile Research Journal, 8 (1), pp. 42-50.
Chen, X. and Yang, D. (2010). Use of 3D angle-interlock woven fabric for seamless female
body armor: Part 1: Ballistic evaluation. Textile Research Journal 80 (15), pp. 1581-1588.
Chen, X. and Yang, D. (2010). Use of three-dimensional angle-interlock woven fabric for
seamless female body armor: Part II: Mathematical modeling, 80 (15), pp. 1589-1601.
Hussein, M. and Parker, G. Ballistic protective wear for female torso, U.S. Patent 6281149 B1.
Mellian, S. A. (1980). Body armor for women, U.S. Patent 4183097.