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Dare Bigger: Everything You Wanted to Know About Kevlar®

by Joe Geng on February 24, 2016

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If you’ve seen the “Dare Bigger” campaign by DuPont™, you’ll recognize the launch of a 50-year celebration campaign that highlights the history of Kevlar® and its many uses. This campaign dares everyone with an imagination and a need for protection to keep reaching for higher goals.

Kevlar chemical structure H bonds
 

Kevlar® might not look like much on paper, but looks can be deceiving.
 

Goals are what prompted the development of Kevlar® in the first place, and they’re what keep its innovation moving forward. Whatever your PPE goals happen to be, chances are this magical, accidental material can help you accomplish them.

The Humble Beginnings of Kevlar®

In 1965, DuPont™ scientists were working to develop a stronger synthetic fiber than nylon and polyester, which dominated the industry.

Without a Bachelor of Science, it’s unlikely that you’ll understand the exact process that it took to discover Kevlar®. But from what we gathered, while working on a lightweight but strong option to be used in tires, Stephanie Kwloek, one of DuPont™’s scientists, created an odd looking polymer that formed liquid crystal.

When spun, this solution turned into golden threads of spectacular strength and stiffness — to everyone’s surprise.

The development was essentially an accident, but it’s one that has gone on to revolutionize synthetic fibers.

 

What Makes Kevlar® so Amazing?

So the fibers are strong and stiff, but what makes them so special?

DuPont™ explains that it’s significantly stronger than steel and high-tenacity carbon. It’s also lightweight, which makes it appropriate for a wider range of applications.

To get a little more technical, the Royal Society of Chemistry explains that:

“Each polymer molecule is a long, linear chain, and these chains bundle into fibres, held together by strong intermolecular forces of hydrogen bonding between the amide groups on different chains, and through a powerful association of the benzene rings known as pi-stacking.”

When laminated, the result is a progressively more rigid material.

Watch this “Dare Bigger” video by DuPont™ in celebration of 50 years of this amazing fiber:

How Kevlar® Can Change Your Life:

Kevlar® isn’t one material. There are actually numerous grades, including:

  • K-29 used for body armor
  • XP, which is much lighter
  • KM2 for extreme body armor

The most famous applications of this remarkable stuff are in life-saving bulletproof vests, and protective gear for fire fighters. It’s also commonly found in protective headgear such as motorcycle helmets. You’ll find it in some of the best cut-resistant gloves, too!

In its Dare Bigger campaign, DuPont™ rates Superior Glove’s Contender™ Heavyweight Cut-Resistant SBKG glove as a SafeSpec™ Glove Selector Tool front-runner with a “unique spinning process” that brings ANSI cut-level A4 and abrasion resistance and inherent fire protection — advantages that all come from the Kevlar®. (Not to mention the fact that it recently won a Kevlar® Innovation Award!)

If you’re in the market for something lighter with better dexterity, our Dexterity® 18-Gauge Cut-Resistant Kevlar® Glove give you ANSI level A3 cut protection with an impressively strong grip.

Dexterity® 18-Gauge Cut-Resistant Kevlar® and Engineered Fiber, PU Palm Dipped Glove
Dexterity® 18-Gauge Cut-Resistant Kevlar® and Engineered Fiber, PU Palm Dipped Glove

 

Believe it or not, there’s a wide world of protection born from this accidental little fiber. Innovation continues and more grades are developed, which broadens the scope of use to anything from astronaut PPE and industry-specific arm protection to abrasion-resistant jeans for the motorcycle daredevil and even cell phones.

It’s difficult to imagine life before Kevlar® was invented.

Nowadays, with its wide availability and versatile nature, PPE made with Kevlar® keeps getting better and better all the time. DuPont™ has issued the challenge to “Dare Bigger.” And that’s what Superior Glove does for you every day.

Curious about the difference that wearing work gloves made with Kevlar® can make? Get a free sample of the S18KGPU gloves we mentioned above to see for yourself. Don’t let their bare hand feel and amazing grip fool you: these Kevlar® blended knit gloves will protect your hands against a variety of different workplace hazards.

Image credit:
Chemical structure of Kevlar®, by cacycle, via Wikimedia Commons.


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