Interest Check on a DIY Rifle Plate kit

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Mods: If this is the wrong forum for this I apologize but this place seemed to be the most appropriate to me.



So I've been digging through patents and whatnot looking for information on how they make Rifle plates like SAPI/ESAPI and have found that its not really that difficult to get the individual components to put together some (probably) pretty decent plates that offer up to NIJ IV levels of protection.

Now I know there are videos of people on Youtube that cobble something together out of fiberglass/epoxy and bathroom tiles and call it good but what I am looking to do is get actual Kevlar 29 (not all Kevlar is Ballistic), UHMWPE fabric (also thinking of testing UHMWPE plate), sintered silicone carbide ceramic and maybe some titanium diboride ceramic (depending on cost and availability).

So here is my question to you all: If I could produce a kit that included everything you need (bonding agents, Kevlar, sintered silicone carbide ceramic or UHMPWE plate, a jig and instructions) AND provide good scientific evidence(or as scientific as the NIJ testing methodology can be) that points to it being something that works is that something you would considering picking up ?

Obviously price is something that will depend on what kind of materials I end up finding works the best and weighs the least while still being cheaper than just buying a ready made plate. What I've seen so far price wise has me pretty optimistic and I'm thinking I might be able to produce level III+ and IV plates at around 60% of what they cost to buy from China. Now of course this is all before I've done any testing, this is just based on patents, youtube videos, and prices on alibaba, amazon and ebay.

At any rate let me know what you all think of this idea and of course as I get around to actual ordering of materials and testing I'll post my results here somewhere on the forums.
 
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I don't mean to be insulting... but are you high? This is a terrible idea for a lot of reasons, namely what makes something bullet proof is not a matter of the materials that go into it but the skills it takes to put it together. The development of a one-off production process will never yield good results, and the equipment to test if something was assembled properly (x-rays and ultrasounds) are simply not available to the average person on the street.

If you really have a good idea for making a next-level plate, develop it, and make plates yourself, if you need I have industry contacts that can get you the hot-presses and autoclaves you need to do it at an industrial level. I'm also sure there are tax incentives, government grants that would help you get into business in your area.

Even then, you're competing with a commodity market, you can get AR-500 plates for $50 or less, and you can get level III Spectra/Dyneema plates for <$150 at retail. (probably about $80 wholesale). These things are all tested and come with a warranty.

Lets also not forget, unless those patents are expired, selling a kit that violates that patent also opens you up to liability. Yes, no, bad idea, terrible.
 
OP
MooThulhu
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First off you raise some really good points that I didn't think about. Besides some of the things you bring up your post got me thinking and I'm pretty sure even doing a group buy I would run afoul of ITAR if I did something like this. When I posted originally I had just finished talking to some places that supply Aluminum Oxide ceramic and was trying to figure out a way to recoup the cost of their minimum orders (which is way over what I need for testing and making the 6 or so sets we have need for). Because of that my first thought was group buy and with that in mind I made my original post. So thank you for pointing out the very real shortcomings of this idea.

Now the production method employed by quite a few manufacturers is actual hand assembly of the plates. There are some methods that use a combination of hand assembly and a fusing process that is far outside of the capabilities of the home user and then there are certainly other processes that I don't know about. The point is that it is possible to at least construct the plates if you have all the components.

As for non destructive testing, you have a point there and I agree that is well outside the abilities of most folks at home and while its possible to send what you make to any number of facilities to be tested by the time you do you might as well have bought the most expensive plates out there several times over.
Something that I would point out however is in the case of people buying plates online or at gun shows that if they are getting a great deal on their armor, its is probably coming from china and with that comes all the questionable quality and lack of a real manufacturers warranty that comes with it.
As for competing with AR-500 plates they are seriously heavy and I don't think anyone other than the very young or the people who plan on sitting in a vehicle all day would seriously consider those.

But all that said I think you are right and it would be more headache than its worth so I'll just keep looking for suppliers that will sell in smaller quantities and see where that takes me.
 

Camelfilter

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The only thing I can think of would be if someone wanted to make there own vehicle (or house door) inserts and can't or doesn't want to spend on manufactured.

i.e. Might be worthwhile for oddball shapes/sizes.

Still would run into the legal issues as previously mentioned.
 
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First off you raise some really good points that I didn't think about. Besides some of the things you bring up your post got me thinking and I'm pretty sure even doing a group buy I would run afoul of ITAR if I did something like this. When I posted originally I had just finished talking to some places that supply Aluminum Oxide ceramic and was trying to figure out a way to recoup the cost of their minimum orders (which is way over what I need for testing and making the 6 or so sets we have need for). Because of that my first thought was group buy and with that in mind I made my original post. So thank you for pointing out the very real shortcomings of this idea.

Now the production method employed by quite a few manufacturers is actual hand assembly of the plates. There are some methods that use a combination of hand assembly and a fusing process that is far outside of the capabilities of the home user and then there are certainly other processes that I don't know about. The point is that it is possible to at least construct the plates if you have all the components.

As for non destructive testing, you have a point there and I agree that is well outside the abilities of most folks at home and while its possible to send what you make to any number of facilities to be tested by the time you do you might as well have bought the most expensive plates out there several times over.
Something that I would point out however is in the case of people buying plates online or at gun shows that if they are getting a great deal on their armor, its is probably coming from china and with that comes all the questionable quality and lack of a real manufacturers warranty that comes with it.
As for competing with AR-500 plates they are seriously heavy and I don't think anyone other than the very young or the people who plan on sitting in a vehicle all day would seriously consider those.

But all that said I think you are right and it would be more headache than its worth so I'll just keep looking for suppliers that will sell in smaller quantities and see where that takes me.
So there's a company I deal with called "Long Fri Technologies", they use chinese materials and make the plates in the US. They've been a client in the past (I've done destructive testing for them) and have a very low price on their plates. They are bulletproof, however they don't meet NIJ standards as far as depth of penetration. The cavity size in the clay was about 2.2-2.5" and the spec is <2". The most serious we saw was a 3" cavity from a .308. But IIRC I think their lvl 3 plate is around $100, and they have a lvl IIIa soft plate for <$60. This is actually the plates I run, a IIIA in the rear, and a combination III+ hard plate with a IIIA backer in the front. I'm running a BDS carrier, and with all my pouches and etc attached the whole system is ~10lbs. In my case, I'm running the IIIA backer more as a pad than anything else, in testing this showed to be acceptable to the NIJ standard, but it's a bit bulky. Also, the >2" penetration was with rifle rounds, not with pistol. The IIIA soft plates also show >2" cavity, for pistol, however they're super thin, and super light, and really comfy to wear. I generally consider being shot in the back as a much lower consideration, and wearing a rear plate with a backpack is painful, so I'm willing to accept the gap in coverage.
 
OP
MooThulhu
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This is actually the plates I run, a IIIA in the rear, and a combination III+ hard plate with a IIIA backer in the front. I'm running a BDS carrier, and with all my pouches and etc attached the whole system is ~10lbs. In my case, I'm running the IIIA backer more as a pad than anything else, in testing this showed to be acceptable to the NIJ standard, but it's a bit bulky. Also, the >2" penetration was with rifle rounds, not with pistol. The IIIA soft plates also show >2" cavity, for pistol, however they're super thin, and super light, and really comfy to wear. I generally consider being shot in the back as a much lower consideration, and wearing a rear plate with a backpack is painful, so I'm willing to accept the gap in coverage.
Thats a really reasonable configuration that I'm thinking I'll probaby copy (with professionally made plates), my last setup was an IOTV with E-SAPI plates and that thing weighed in at 30 something lbs. which was more than I was comfortable doing much of anything in back then so I can't imagine I'd be able to do more than roll away from a threat in it now. On top of all that weight the worry of a plate cracking always made me paranoid that I was going to bust up my 100$ plates (at the time in the area I was in we where awash in plates being sold off at pawn shops by folks coming home. I understand DOD got pretty upset about that and really put their foot down about that though)

I'll get in touch with Longfri and see what their minimum orders are and if they would be willing to sell some remnants for me to mess around with and see what I can come up with. I doubt they will be willing to but I figure its worth asking and if I do come up with any really good ideas I'll go about monetizing it the way you suggested or even better selling it to an established manufacturer.
 
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Thats a really reasonable configuration that I'm thinking I'll probaby copy (with professionally made plates), my last setup was an IOTV with E-SAPI plates and that thing weighed in at 30 something lbs. which was more than I was comfortable doing much of anything in back then so I can't imagine I'd be able to do more than roll away from a threat in it now. On top of all that weight the worry of a plate cracking always made me paranoid that I was going to bust up my 100$ plates (at the time in the area I was in we where awash in plates being sold off at pawn shops by folks coming home. I understand DOD got pretty upset about that and really put their foot down about that though)

I'll get in touch with Longfri and see what their minimum orders are and if they would be willing to sell some remnants for me to mess around with and see what I can come up with. I doubt they will be willing to but I figure its worth asking and if I do come up with any really good ideas I'll go about monetizing it the way you suggested or even better selling it to an established manufacturer.
They are really hard-core about finding people to cover local gun shows. I'll admit I never had much interest in the LVL IV plates, it's just too much weight and the armor piercing ammo threat is even lower than the rifle threat. But since I bought my plates to wear on the range where people are shooting rifles, I wear 'em. I don't think much of the carriers they sell, but it's pretty much the same chinese carriers that come with AR500 armor they're ok in a pinch (and cheap), and could possibly help make the difference between some interest and a sale at a show. YMMV
 

ZA_Survivalist

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Sell it as a DIY layered target system and not BA to avoid legal trouble.

Also try polymer cutting boards as a backer to the front half. If anything Id really enjoy seeing a youtube video of what you're offering. The whole kit, the process..etc.
 
OP
MooThulhu
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Sell it as a DIY layered target system and not BA to avoid legal trouble.


Also try polymer cutting boards as a backer to the front half. If anything Id really enjoy seeing a youtube video of what you're offering. The whole kit, the process..etc.
Thats a pretty good idea but I'm guessing even if I did I probably wouldn't make enough money to pay off my lawyer in the case of some alphabet soup agency taking issue with the project. I'm pretty sure this thread alone would be all they need to demonstrate intent so I think I'll leave it as a hobby project.

I was actually surprised to find that you can order UHMWPE sheet right off of amazon. I've seen some people using it stop a single shot of .45 without anything other than it in 1 inch plate. I'll see if I can find any cutting boards made of stuff other than HDPE and see what it does though.

A good youtube channel I've found centered around DIY armor is Drzewacz888 the guy doesn't have a whole lot of uploads but he seems to be focusing pretty much soley on home built armor using various fabrics and titanium plate. I know there are a number of other people out there making plate out of fiberglass and resin and all kinds of hardware store stuff which is definitely entertaining to see done but doesn't seem like something I'd ever want to carry on me into a fight. I mean if fiberglass was such a great material than why do manufacturers bother with Kevlar and exotic ceramics?

I'll make sure to document whatever methods we try and their efficacy when I get the materials together. I'm still educating myself on the material properties of the stuff I want to test out and looking for suppliers of them that will do small orders, so it will be a few months yet till I get to the real fun part. I'm not so good at video editing but I'll at least get pictures and do a write up of any success (and I'm sure the multitude's of failures) I have.
 
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Home made armor is pretty interesting to me. I wouldn't ever trust it on my person, but if SHTF, I'd want my truck lined with it. I couldn't imagine even going to the grocery store without putting myself at serious risk. I've just seen way too many attacks on people in vehicles on ASP's channel to understand how vulnerable you are in your vehicle.
 
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Thats a pretty good idea but I'm guessing even if I did I probably wouldn't make enough money to pay off my lawyer in the case of some alphabet soup agency taking issue with the project. I'm pretty sure this thread alone would be all they need to demonstrate intent so I think I'll leave it as a hobby project.

I was actually surprised to find that you can order UHMWPE sheet right off of amazon. I've seen some people using it stop a single shot of .45 without anything other than it in 1 inch plate. I'll see if I can find any cutting boards made of stuff other than HDPE and see what it does though.

A good youtube channel I've found centered around DIY armor is Drzewacz888 the guy doesn't have a whole lot of uploads but he seems to be focusing pretty much soley on home built armor using various fabrics and titanium plate. I know there are a number of other people out there making plate out of fiberglass and resin and all kinds of hardware store stuff which is definitely entertaining to see done but doesn't seem like something I'd ever want to carry on me into a fight. I mean if fiberglass was such a great material than why do manufacturers bother with Kevlar and exotic ceramics?

I'll make sure to document whatever methods we try and their efficacy when I get the materials together. I'm still educating myself on the material properties of the stuff I want to test out and looking for suppliers of them that will do small orders, so it will be a few months yet till I get to the real fun part. I'm not so good at video editing but I'll at least get pictures and do a write up of any success (and I'm sure the multitude's of failures) I have.
Good god, UHMWPE is just the base material, form matters. The material inside the armor is not plate, sheet, or any common hardware-store-made-to-order material. Spectra or Dyneema fabric is the form the UHMWPE is in, it's a fiber made out of PE, it's not sheets of the stuff.

This is why I admonished you for this, there is so much garbage information going around out there that it eventually becomes impossible to stem the tide.

If you really want to start out, and be at all successful in this process, go read the technical literature on it. Patents might describe some of the things, but patents are written by attorneys who write down enough information to protect the intellectual property, without giving enough of the process away that it can be easily duplicated.
 
OP
MooThulhu
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Uhm, I'm aware that in the commercial plates that use UHMWPE it is a layered fabric made out of UHMWPE . I was replying to another post that suggested using cutting boards which I don't really think sounds like it would work but I HAVE seen a video where they stopped a single shot of .45 ACP with a 1" sheet of the UHMWPE.

if you care to watch it.



Just like all the other junk that I get to making and playing around with sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I am always safe in my testing methodologies and handling of materials and you helped show me how irresponsible it would be to market anything I learn from my tinkering. I really do thank you for that by the way.

Furthermore I understand there are certain methods and materials being used in commercial body armor by a couple real innovators and tons of imitators. Some of these methods and materials are outside of a normal persons grasp so I'd like to find what if any methods and materials are within my grasp and see what I can make with them. The patents are being used as a starting point for me to tinker with some things and have fun at this point. Maybe if I keep good enough notes I can put together something a little bit better information wise than youtube videos and maybe not. At the end of the day it might just end up being me shooting bubblegum that cost a few bucks more than shoot n see targets, and thats all right with me.
 

nwslopoke

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I don't see a problem with experimenting with different materials and processes. It falls under, it's a free country. I wouldn't recommend standing in front of homemade armor but it might be a fun, cheap hobby.
 
OP
MooThulhu
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Wish that were true, but OP here could get in a lot of trouble even now having posted his idea publicly. <broken link removed>
Huh ? not sure I follow you, the link says I don't have permission to view it ?

How can I get in trouble for researching DIY armor ? I know if I'm shooting at some of the public places that you are not supposed to shoot at anything other than commercially manufactured targets and paper but besides that issue am I forgetting about something ?

Edit: from reading the URL I think I figured things out, I think it was a joke? (I am blonde though so it is quite possible that I'm completely failing to grasp whats going on)
 
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