Plastic Body Armor? Why Akron, Ohio, is the Ideal Location for ShotStop® Ballistics

For many, the idea that “plastic” can stop bullets is still difficult to comprehend.

Plastic is officially defined as “a synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form.” While the newer, lightweight body armor panels are not really “plastic,” they are made of these same polymers, particularly polyethylene.

Over the last decade, ShotStop® Ballistics has developed its patented Duritium® technology, which is a portfolio of patented, patents pending and proprietary technologies - including an innovative polyethylene formula that has an extremely high tensile strength (“the resistance of a material to breaking under tension”), and is thinner, lighter, and less expensive than other comparative materials.

The Benefits of Being Near Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio, is often referred to as the “Polymer Capital of the World.” Much of the credit for that name goes back to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and the University of Akron, whose scientists have become world-renowned for their research done at the Goodyear Polymer Center, which was built nearly 30 years ago.

ShotStop is located in Stow, Ohio, just 10 minutes north of Akron, providing access to the leading minds in the polymer industry as well as the most innovative technologies and laboratories dealing with the future of polymers. ShotStop’s founder, Vall Iliev, has been working in the Akron polymers industry since the late 1970s when he arrived in the U.S. after narrowly escaping from Communist Bulgaria.

ShotStop’s experienced team of engineers, scientists, chemists, PhDs, and technical advisers ensures the company is always at the forefront of innovation.

Polymers In History

Check out this interesting timeline of polymers from 1839 to 2006 from April Helms’s article in the Akron Beacon Journal on May 25, 2019.

Source: Chains of Opportunity: The University of Akron and the Emergence of the Polymer Age, 1909-2007, by Mark D. Bowles

1839 — The process of vulcanizing rubber is established 

1909 — Chemistry professor Charles Knight offers the first college course in the world focusing on rubber at Buchtel College (which would become The University of Akron in 1913). For more than 20 years, it would be the only college course of its kind 

1922 — Hermann Staudinger introduces the concept of the “macromolecule,” a molecule containing a very large number of atoms such as a synthetic polymer 

1930 — Wallace Carothers creates what would later become known as Neoprene, a synthetic rubber, made during an experiment with acetylene. He also discovered how to produce nylon. 

1935 — Nylon, one of the first synthetic polymers, was produced by Carothers 

1946 — Day-Glo was created 

1946 — Herman F. Mark, the “father of polymer education,” founds the nation’s first polymer research institute at Brooklyn Polytechnic 

1947 — “Cold rubber” commercialized 

1956 — Both the Institute of Rubber Research and one of the first Ph.D. programs in polymer chemistry established at The University of Akron 

1959 — Five students become the first to receive their Ph.D. in polymer chemistry at The University of Akron. One of the five, Ralph Milkovich, discovered “living” polymers, or polymer chains that can propagate and grow, three years earlier 

1972 — G. Stafford Whitby dies. Whitby, a longtime professor at The University of Akron and director of rubber research, is credited with helping to create “cold rubber” 

1973 — The United States produced 15.5 million cubic meters of polymers; it produced the same amount of steel 

1976 — For the first time, the U.S. consumes more plastics than metals on a per-volume basis 

1984 — The Edison Polymer Innovation Corp. (EPIC), formed from a collaboration between Caste Western Reserve University and The University of Akron, officially announced by then-Gov. Richard F. Celeste 

1991 — The Polymer Science Building opens at The University of Akron. It is renamed the Goodyear Polymer Center in 1998. 

1992 — Hudson High School and Stow-Munroe Falls High School link their computers to The University of Akron’s polymer laboratory

1993 — The Akron Polymer Training Center established 

2000 — State of Ohio ceases to fund EPIC 

2001 — The state creates the non-profit Ohio Polymer Enterprise Development Inc. 

2001 — The Ohio Polymer Strategy Council formed 

2002 — By the end of this year, OPED is responsible for 30 polymer start-up companies 

2003 — Ohio Department of Development terminates support for OPED 

2006 — The University of Akron celebrates its 50th anniversary of starting the Ph.D. program for polymer chemistry