- The current body armor used by the military does not provide enough fit to women. Female soldiers are ordered to wear body armor that was not built to conform to their bodies. The inadequate body armor could bring more threats than safety to the wearers.
Based on the facts that women in the military are required to wear the same type IV vest as men, and women do not have the same shape or size as men, the purpose of this study is to develop a type IV body armor which will conform to the female anatomy but also provide more comfort, fit, and mobility to females. Women's body shape demands different shaping of the materials to contour to the body. Under this concept, this research was conducted to modify the current model, InterceptorTM, and develop a new design for women.
The InterceptorTM belongs to type IV body armor. It is composed of the woven ballistic fabrics and rigid plates of ballistic material, like steel, ceramic, or plastic, which meets the ballistic resistant performance requirements of the National Institute of Justice standard-0101.04.
LaBat and Sokolowski's three stage design process was applied in this research. Questionnaire was used to collect information and opinions from users. 11 female soldiers from Oregon National Guard participated in this study. Questions pertained to the user's personal information, general information between them and the vest, movements and activities, experience of wearing the InterceptorTM body armor, and their perceptions about the vest design were asked.
Based on the results, chest, neckline, and armhole areas were determined as the areas that need to be modified. According to users' opinions, it is important for the vest to fit female's body, give good arm mobility, and compatible with LBV. The researcher also did the market research on the InterceptorTM and other women’s body armor, and analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of them. It helped the researcher brainstorm some design ideas for the new vest. The design criteria obtained from the research stage helped the researcher to develop the new design.