Why does body armor expire?
As the Political terrorist incidents worsens and escalates constantly, protective equipment has gradually got into the public view. Faced with so many choices, people always take many factors into consideration, one of which is the expiration of protective product.
Then why does body armor expire? How long does body armor last? Here are interpretations for these questions.
All the protective products are made of one or several materials, and with the passage of time, all materials will age gradually, and the structural performance will deteriorate slowly there. At the same time, materials all have their specific characteristics in structure and stability. Therefore, all protective products have expirations and the expiration always varies from one to another based on the material. Many people think body armors must remain useful within its valid period, but this was not the case. The protective effect of bulletproof products during the warranty period is affected by many factors, such as material, use frequency, maintenance and product size.
The material of body armor is one of the important factors affecting its service life. Just like all organic materials, the materials used for making bulletproof products will degrade gradually over time, resulting in a decline in their performance. Different materials have different structures and stabilities, so body armors made of different materials have different expirations. Now, body armor can be made of many materials, like kevlar, PE, steel and ceramics, etc., and there are also some differences in their service life.
For example, soft armor deteriorates much faster than hard armor and is particularly vulnerable to heat and wetness (Once a soft armor is completely saturated with water, it should be replaced immediately). PE armor always shows a stronger high-temperature resistance than kevlar armor.
Hard Armor Plate
The use frequency is also an important factor affecting the service life of protective equipment. Taking bulletproof vests for example, compared with an occasionally used bulletproof vest, a frequently used one always has a drop in the performance, for the use of protective equipment usually brings about some wear and tear, resulting in the reduction of their service life.
How you maintain your body armor will also affect the length of time that body armor can be used. Some body armors need to be kept in a specific environment because of their materials.
For instance, the widely used Kevlar bulletproof vest and plates should be kept to avoid the direct contact with sunlight and water. Prolonged contact with water will greatly reduce their protective effect, and then their service life. In addition, you need to store your vest in a place that will allow it to rest in a flat position.
The last thing that greatly affects the service life of body armor is how fit it is. When wearing a loose bulletproof vest, people will put excess stress on the ballistic panels because they will be able to move around inside of the carrier rather than press snuggly against the body. If a bulletproof vest is too tight for someone, it could cause his vest to crease and damage the ballistic panels. So, it is important for you to wear a vest that fits you well and make some adjustments when needed to reduce their damage and maximize its protective effect.
Without knowing how the buyers use and maintain their products, manufacturers have no way to promise an exact expiration. Many of them will conduct a performance testing on the products and give a general time range. So, there is always a label on the products: "effective within the validity period without deliberate damage ". Generally speaking, the warranty period promised by manufacturers is not very long, which is usually 3~5 years, because giving the user a long warranty period often opens the manufacturer to potential law suits, then increases cost of insurance, resulting in the increase the final price of product. Therefore, it is possible that expired protective equipment still holds good protective capability. Even so, we still suggest that you should follow the expiration guidelines provided by the manufacturer regardless of whether you think your vest should last longer. It could be a matter of life and death.