Bullet Proof Versus Bullet Resistant Glazing

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(Newswire.net — December 21, 2016) Anaheim, CA — The term ‘Bullet Proof’ is one of those expressions that have become accepted over time, just because of excessive use of the term. In reality, there is no such thing as ‘Bullet Proof’.  To be ‘bullet proof’ would mean that no bullets could penetrate the substrate. The term that applies to a clear glazing material used for security applications is correctly called ‘Bullet Resistant’.

Why is there no such thing as Bullet Proof?

The simple answer is that when a material is called bullet proof, it must stop all bullets. To defeat a bullet proof material, someone just needs a bigger or more powerful bullet. To date, there is no such rating system or material that would meet this type of rating.

Even so called bullet proof vests are not bullet proof. These items are called Ballistic Vests by the industry, and are rated based on size of bullet you are looking to resist. One supplier, Safeguard Clothing (www.safeguardclothing.com) states: “A bullet proof vest is not designed to protect against any bullet, and body armor is available at different levels of protection. These levels are standardized by many different agencies, but the two most important are the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the UK Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST, formerly HOSDB).”

See through glazing has a similar rating system for bullet resistance. There are 3 main types of clear glazing grades of Bullet Resistant materials. They are Glass, Acrylic and Polycarbonate materials.

A frequent statement about Polycarbonate Sheet is, ‘oh, is that the bullet proof sheet?’ Once again, there is no bullet proof sheet, but Polycarbonate is one of the best materials for producing a bullet resistant glazing. Standard Makrolon polycarbonate sheets in .118” – .500” thickness are considered unbreakable when used and installed correctly, and used as a flat glazing material. This gives the impression it could even stop bullets, which is totally incorrect.

Unbreakable does not equal bullet proof.

The polycarbonate sheeting material can be used to produce laminated polycarbonate glazing that can be used for security glazing, and is rated as bullet resistant. Clear Acrylic Sheet is also available in a Level III grade sheet at 1.250″ thickness. Both of these plastic sheet materials are significantly lighter than the bullet resistant glass products.

One way security glazing is rated is by testing against the modified forced entry resistance requirements of HPW-TP0500-02 specification. Glazing materials are rated based on the ability to stop certain caliber of firearms.

These are the current rating for these materials:

Level 1 – is rated for medium power small arms (MPSA)

Level 2 – is rated for high power small arms (HPSA)

Level 3 – is rated for super power small arms (SPSA)

Other specifications for rating bullet resistant containment glazing include UL 752 up to Level 3. Each of these specifications rates a material base on very specific firearms, and the distances that they are tested.

Sheffield Plastics, a division of Covestro, extrudes some of the finest quality polycarbonate sheets and Hygard bullet resistant glazing currently produced. Makrolon polycarbonate sheets are made in Sheffield, Mass, and these American Made producers have been leaders in clear Polycarbonate sheet since Polycarbonate was invented.

You must consider Spalling

Of the three types of transparent bullet resistant glazing, only the Polycarbonate is non-spalling. Other than the bullets in a ballistic attack, the second major threat is the ‘spall’ or shards of material that break away from the rear face (the protection side) of a bullet resistant glazing. While the bullet may be stopped by the glazing, the spall can become a projectile as well. The polycarbonate bullet resistant glazing does not spall under rated attack.

Is a rated bullet resistant glazing required?

If a ballistic attack is a possibility, then using a rated grade of bullet resistant glazing is the only real option. In instances where protection or the appearance of protection will be sufficient, then some end-users simply use a sheet of polycarbonate to keep people out. There are no ballistic ratings for standard polycarbonate or acrylic sheets, but simply keeping the offenders on the other side may be all that is required.

About Industrial Plastic Supply, Inc

Since 1975, Industrial Plastic Supply, Inc. has provided high quality plastic sheet, rod and tube materials to industry. Over 80 plastic material types in a huge range of sizes, all in stock and ready to ship. Cut to size parts and near net shapes are a specialty. When you need quality materials, and need them now, go to Industrial Plastic Supply, Inc. Toll Free: 888-575-6600

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