By Dan Hockensmith, Plastics News Staff
Evansville, Indiana -- The new X-flex product from Berry Plastics Corp. could be thought of as body armour for buildings.
Designed with input from the US Department of Defense, the composite film tape, designed to act as ballistic wallpaper that minimises blast damage from explosions, has been in service with the US military since 2009.
"The intention was to get it out to the troops in [operational areas], and then to commercially market it was the second phase," Elizabeth Curran, Berry director of engineered protective systems, said in a 12 Jan telephone interview.
Evansville, Indiana-based Berry was asked by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2006 to create a product to protect structures from the effects of blasts caused by terrorist or insurgent attacks.
X-flex consists of a high-performance urethane outer layer, scrim reinforcement, and an adhesive backing. Applied to walls, it can protect military bunkers, government buildings, or hotels by catching debris and dissipating the shock wave that follows an explosion.
"It has a certain degree of flexibility, but not much, so that [if] you're sitting in a room the material wouldn't flex inward and knock you off your seat," Curran said.
Berry has identified three US facilities that could commercially produce X-flex this year, she said. Curran would not say where those plants are or discuss X-flex's cost, other than to say it is cheaper than reinforcing structures with steel.
"Already there are a few other opportunities for [X-flex], and we're in discussion with other companies, but at this point there's nothing definitive," she said.
Berry has conducted additional testing of X-flex as protection against hurricane- and tornado-related damage that has resulted in the product being recognised by the National Storm Shelter Association in Lubbock, Texas, Curran said.
The American Composites Manufacturers Association of Arlington, Virginia, awarded X-flex best in show honours at its Composites+Polycon show, held 15-17 Jan 2009, in Tampa, Florida