Title:
Ballistic Groin Protector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The ballistic groin protector of the present invention is preferably a compound curved sheet comprised of a stack of multiple layers of ballistic material, for example material of Kevlar® fibers, or Spectra® fiber material. The stack may be stitched around the periphery. To obtain more stiffness a more or less thick plastic stiffening shape may be formed together with the layers of ballistic material. The ballistic protective element is preferably somewhat compliant and not so stiff as to excessively interfere with movement of the wearer. The ballistic element may be enclosed within a fabric bag and suspended from a belt, and have a rearwardly opening cup shape to serve to protect the groin of a wearer.



Inventors:
Crye, Caleb Clark (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/721524
Publication Date:
09/16/2010
Filing Date:
03/10/2010
Assignee:
LINEWEIGHT LLC (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41H1/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COLLINS, ANDREW WARREN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STIENNON & STIENNON (MADISON, WI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A ballistic protective groin protector, comprising a plurality of layers of ballistic material formed under heat and pressure to define a compound curved shape, the shape having an upper margin for attachment to a garment, and a rearwardly opening cup-shaped segment extending downwardly therefrom, the cup-shaped segment tapering as it extends downwardly, and curves upwardly and rearwardly at its lowermost.

2. The ballistic protective groin protector of claim 1 further comprising a plastic stiffening element formed with the ballistic protective element.

3. A ballistic protective assembly for attachment to a belt to extend downwardly therefrom to protect the groin of a wearer, the groin protector comprising: a plurality of layers of ballistic material formed together to define a compound curved shape, the shape having an upper margin which attaches to the belt, and a rearwardly opening cup-shaped segment extending downwardly from the belt, the cup-shaped segment tapering as it extends downwardly, and curving rearwardly at its lowermost.

4. The ballistic protective assembly of claim 3 further comprising a plastic stiffening element formed connected to the plurality of layers of ballistic material.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional App. No. 61/159,065, filed Mar. 10, 2009, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to ballistic protective apparel.

Persons exposed to projectile threats, such as police officers and soldiers, may seek a certain level of protection by wearing armored clothing. Low velocity projectiles such as handgun rounds, fragmentation rounds from a grenade or mortar, and miscellaneous shrapnel may be countered by so-called “soft armor.” Soft armor is worn in the form of jackets, vests, etc. which are composed of assemblies of ballistic fabric such as those formed from DuPont Kevlar® fibers or of Spectra® ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibers from Honeywell. The soft armor is often fabricated as flexible panels which are received within pockets or pouches formed in fabric vests or jackets. In more serious threat situations, where higher velocity rifle rounds and fragments must be countered, soft armor has typically been supplemented with hard armor fabricated of rigid plates of ceramic, polymer, or metal.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,892,392, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein, discloses soft armor ballistic elements fabricated of multiple layers of ballistic fabric material, for example duPont Kevlar® material, Akzo's Twaron® T-2000 microfilament aramid fiber material, or other conventional ballistic fabric. Fifteen to thirty layers of ballistic fabric are formed together with a 1/16 inch molded plastic stiffening layer which provides some three-dimensional shape.

A conventional prior art groin protective ballistic element 10 is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The prior art soft armor element 10 is substantially flat, and will be typically fastened to a ballistic vest to hang downwardly to shield the groin of a wearer. The ballistic element 10 is comprised of multiple layers of ballistic fabric which are formed together by heat and pressure to cause a polymer resin to set up and form a single unified element, which may be stitched at the edges, and then enclosed within a fabric bag or pocket. However, the shape of the prior art element 10 which is suspended from the vest, is spaced from the wearer's body, and in the case of an explosion can be displaced or detached from the wearer, thus sacrificing its protective function. Yet for more effective ballistic protection, a protective element should be closer to the body.

Hard armor ballistic protective elements are known, for example in ballistic helmets. Yet a protective element that is too stiff can be uncomfortable to the wearer, especially when encountering obstacles or in situations requiring active movement.

What is needed is a ballistic element which offers more form fitting shape, yet which is somewhat compliant to avoid wearer discomfort.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The ballistic protective element of the present invention is preferably a compound curved sheet comprised of a stack of multiple layers of ballistic material, for example material of Kevlar® fibers, or Spectra® fiber material. The stack may be stitched around the periphery, to obtain the desired level of stiffening, a more or less thick plastic stiffening shape may be formed together with the layers of ballistic material. The ballistic protective element is preferably somewhat compliant and not so stiff as to excessively interfere with movement of the wearer. The ballistic element may be enclosed within a fabric bag and suspended from a belt, and have a rearwardly opening cup shape to serve to protect the groin of a wearer.

Because of the compound shape, the ballistic protective element can be better positioned to protect the guarded wearer, staying closer to the protected body when exposed to a threat, yet at the same time, the compliant capacity of the element makes it less likely to interfere significantly with the wearer's movements, especially when coming rapidly in contact with some obstacle.

It is a feature of the present invention to provide a ballistic protective element which is curved to stay close to a protected body part but which is not so rigid as to be unnecessarily uncomfortable.

Further objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a ballistic protective groin protective element of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the groin protective element of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary cross-sectional view of the groin protective element of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a prior art ballistic protective groin protective element.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the prior art element of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a soldier wearing the ballistic protective groin protective element of FIG. 1 in connection with a ballistic protective vest.

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of an alternative embodiment groin protective element of this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring more particularly to FIGS. 1-7, wherein like numbers refer to similar parts, a compliant body armor ballistic element 20 is shown in FIGS. 1-3. The component 20 will typically be worn together with some type of armored vest 22, as shown in FIG. 6. The component 20 may include a fabric bag 24 which receives a soft armor ballistic element 30, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and which is a thin compound curved concave element, which may be about five-sixteenths inches thick. The enclosing sewn fabric bag 24 protects the ballistic element 30 from wear and soiling. This bag may be a lightweight nylon material. The element 30 is formed as a stack of multiple layers of ballistic material 25, for example material of Kevlar® fibers, or, for example, layers of material of Spectra® ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibers from Honeywell. The stack is formed under heat and pressure with a resin as discussed below, and may be stitched around the periphery, in a quilted pattern, or otherwise, to form a stiffer ballistic element. To provide a finished appearance, the element may have a fabric covering adhered thereto. In an alternative embodiment 100 additional stiffening shape is provided to the ballistic element by adding a stiffening plastic layer 102, as shown in FIG. 8 to the layers of ballistic material. By adding stiffness to the soft armor ballistic element 30, the component 20 is better able to retain its shape. The plastic layer may be about 1/16 to 1/32 inches thick polycarbonate such as General Electric's Lexan® polycarbonate resin thermoplastic material, and may be adhered or stitched to the ballistic element as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,892,392. By “ballistic element” is meant an element configured to resist ballistic projectiles or fragments.

The ballistic element is formed in a diaphragm press, employing vacuum forming techniques in which a lay up of ballistic material sheets with resin material between the sheets is positioned on an underlying heated mold having the desired compound shape. A vacuum is applied to draw the sheets to the underlying mold, and a rubber sheet is brought down over the lay up to apply even pressure to cause the lay up to conform to the mold under heat and pressure, which causes the resin to set up. In place of a rubber sheet a metal or rubber match mold could be used. In this fashion the compound curved ballistic element is formed, avoiding the necessity to employ slits or darts in the ballistic material sheets. The pressure and temperature in the press should be selected such that the formed ballistic element is not a hard shell, but is instead somewhat compliant and resilient. Hence the ballistic element is capable of keeping its shape and being disposed in close proximity to the portion of the wearer's body which it is protecting, but it is nevertheless capable of deforming in response to an obstruction or interference with some obstacle.

As shown in FIG. 6, the groin protective element is preferably attached to a belt 32 and disposed to depend downwardly from the belt to protect the wearer's groin. As shown in FIG. 1, the element 30 has a generally planar upper margin 34 with a rearwardly opening cup-shaped segment 36 extending downwardly therefrom. The cup-shaped segment 36 tapers as it extends downwardly, and curves upwardly and rearwardly such that it faces downwardly at its lowermost, and is closely spaced from the wearer's groin.

As shown in FIG. 7, the ballistic element may be reinforced with a molded plastic sheet 102, as in the element 100 shown in FIG. 7.

It should be noted that although a compound curved ballistic element is shown and described, a compliant element which is a developable surface may also be employed where desired.

It is understood that the invention is not limited to the particular construction and arrangement of parts herein illustrated and described, but embraces all such modified forms thereof as come within the scope of the following claims.