Ultrasonic Technology Gains Favor with Major Body Armor Manufacturers for Achieving Compliance with NIJ Waterproof Standards

Sonobond's SeamMaster™ High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine to be Featured at SHOT Show, in Las Vegas, January 14-17, 2014

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania – Ultrasonic technology is increasingly being used as an assembly method for body armor – and the machine of choice for virtually every major manufacturer is Sonobond's SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine.

"One of the reasons behind the growing preference for ultrasonic assembly is the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) wet-conditioning standards that require ballistic vests to be waterproof, even after submersion for 30 minutes," explains Sonobond Vice President Melissa Alleman. (See NIJ-0101.06.)

"More than 30 manufacturers now use Sonobond equipment because it reliably seals the outer nylon shell, protecting the ballistic-resistant material inside from the damaging effects of exposure to moisture."

Sonobond will showcase its ultrasonic equipment for assembling body armor – including the SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine – at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, in Las Vegas, January 14-17, 2014, at the Sands Expo Center. The company will share Booth #14679 with Brookwood Companies, whose specialty fabrics not only meet NIJ requirements, but also can be bonded by Sonobond's equipment.

Ensuring Personal Protection Capability

Body armor is used for protection by law enforcement, military personnel, Secret Service agents, emergency responders and CIA and IRS employees. Over the years, the standards set by the NIJ to ensure personal protection capabilities have become more and more stringent.

"Since the bullet-proof materials – such as Spectra-Shield® and Kevlar® – contained in the vest lose their life-saving effectiveness when exposed to water, it's absolutely critical that the seams in the outer nylon shell are perfectly fused," says Alleman. Ultrasonic bonding creates a strong molecular bond that's impervious to moisture and eliminates stitch holes, glue gaps, fraying and unraveling, substantially reducing any risk of damage to the interior contents of the vest.

Advantages of Ultrasonic Bonding

Ultrasonic bonding occurs when woven or nonwoven synthetic materials or blends with up to 40 percent natural fibers are placed between the machine's horn and anvil or, in the case of the SeamMaster, rotating wheel. High-frequency vibrations result in localized heat buildup that causes the synthetic fibers to soften and fuse, creating a durable seal without needles, thread, glue or other consumables.

Ultrasonic Equipment for Body Armor Assembly

The versatile SeamMasterTM High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine is ideal for sealing the exterior nylon shell of body armor systems. Its rotary system bonds and trims synthetic materials in one quick step and its large, high-clearance wheel provides easy access for bulky materials and hand-guided operations. The machine is up to four times faster than conventional sewing machines and 10 times faster than adhesive methods. It has the added advantage of resembling a sewing machine and being easy to operate with only minimal training. The machine also is available as a modular unit that can be integrated into production lines.

"According to some of our customers, their production output levels have increased more than 25 percent since switching from conventional sewing or adhesive machines to ultrasonic assembly," says Alleman.

Attaching Synthetic Straps

Sonobond's SureWeld 20 Ultrasonic PlungeBonder™, which can seal large, multiple-layer or difficult-to-bond materials, offers manufacturers a number of advantages for attaching coated straps within the seam of a ballistic vest's outer shell. By placing the outer shell material and strap between the machine's horn and anvil, the high-frequency vibrations channeled to the materials create a heat buildup in just one pulse that seals without compromising the integrity of the seam, again ensuring the vest's ability to satisfy NIJ submersion standards.

Ultrasonic Bonding Viability Test

To ensure that its equipment meets manufacturers' requirements, Sonobond offers a free, no-obligation Ultrasonic Bonding Viability Test. "This enables manufacturers to match our equipment to their specific application and confirm that our products will deliver the quality ultrasonic bonding they need," says Alleman.

A Track Record of Industry Leadership and Customer Service

Sonobond is a worldwide leader in the application of ultrasonic bonding and welding technology. Over the past 53 years, it has developed a comprehensive offering of innovative, quality-engineered products. Today, the company manufactures ultrasonic equipment for leading firms in the aerospace, apparel, appliance, automotive, ballistics, battery, electrical, environmental, filtration, HVAC, medical and solar industries.

Additionally, Sonobond employees have earned a reputation for providing exceptional customer service and outstanding technical support before, during and after equipment installation. They're committed to ensuring that ultrasonic equipment is introduced swiftly and smoothly to any manufacturing operation.

Additional Information

For more information about Sonobond's ultrasonic technology for assembling ballistic vests, stop by Booth #14679 at the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, January 14-17, 2014. For immediate information, visit Sonobond's website at www.SonobondUltrasonics.com, phone the company at 800-323-1269, or contact Vice President Melissa Alleman directly at MAlleman@SonobondUltrasonics.com.

Spectra-Shield® and Kevlar® are Registered Trademarks of their respective companies.

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