How does a stab proof vest work?
There are a few things you need to know if you are looking for a stab-proof vest. The first is that no stab vest is completely impenetrable – this is why body armour is often referred to as stab or bullet ‘resistant’ rather than ‘proof.’ All body armour has the ability to be penetrated by a powerful enough weapon. This may be due to the wrong protection level being worn or the vest being old and damaged. However, all stab vests offer an individual additional potentially lifesaving protection that the human body does not have on its own. Stab proof vests are resistant to penetration from edged weapons such as knives and other sharp objects, such as broken bottles. Their design allows them to be able to protect the body from punctures from sharp blades or pointed weapons.
Stab proof vests are made from a material called Kevlar®. Kevlar® is a synthetic fibre with a very high tensile strength, making it ideal for body armour. Kevlar® was first introduced several decades ago and has since proven to be one of the strongest materials available worldwide. Kevlar® is used in both bulletproof and stab proof vests. The Kevlar® fabric is tightly woven together in order to create stab proof vests. While the Kevlar® fibres are strong on their own, their protection levels increase dramatically when the fibres are woven tightly together to create a protective barrier. This tight weaving of the fibres makes it extremely difficult for a weapon to be able to penetrate the material because a lot of force is required in order to actually penetrate through the material. When somebody tries to stab an individual wearing a stab proof vest with a knife, the knife becomes caught in the fabric, slipping through the material. The sharp edge of the knife is then unable to penetrate through to the flesh because it is caught within the Kevlar® weaving. Although the cutting motion will damage the vest carrier, the wearer will be protected from the knife. In the case of a protective vest becoming damaged after an attack, you should always purchase a new vest, or carrier when available. A damaged vest will not offer the same protection that it would if it was undamaged. If the panels within the vest are damaged the fibres will not be as tightly woven, and the loss of closeness in the weaving could make it possible for knives or sharp objects to penetrate the material, putting you in serious potential danger.
When someone attempts to stab a stab-proof vest wearer the material works a little bit differently. Piercing the vest with a sharp, pointed object will cause the fibres to move around the point, causing it to be pushed back and forth in the material. It works as if someone were sewing with a needle and thread. The point passes through some of the fibres and then moves in another direction through others. This slows down the rate at which the item can pierce the vest and prevents a full puncture from occurring. After a vest is punctured it may still be useable, as punctures typically do not damage the integrity of the material.
It is important to take thorough care of a stab-proof vest. Any piece of body armour should be inspected on a regular basis for damage and wear and tear. A vest will only be able to offer you maximum protection if it is in the best condition possible. If somebody has attempted to stab or cut you, you should always examine your body armour thoroughly before wearing it again.