Kevlar® is an extremely strong material that derives its strength from its spider web-like weave. Stephanie Kwolek and Herbert Blades created this special material in 1965 for the Dupont Company. Since then it has been used in a number of ways.
To make Kevlar®, a special weaving method — known as an aramid weave — is used to turn a liquid into a solid. Aramid fibers tend to be difficult to corrode, resistant to heat, and have no melting point. Chlorine can degrade the material, however.
Because Kevlar® is light, it is the premium choice for bulletproof vests. A variant called Nomex® is fireproof and may be used by fireman or other people responding to disaster situations.
Different types of weaves that can be used to create this material, and the one that makes a fabric-like produce suitable for vests is called Kevlar® 29. This version may also be used in brake pads, or to replace asbestos. It is also is a major part of the composition of body armor.
There are two other main weave types: Kevlar® and Kevlar® 49. The regular, non-numbered version may be used to replace rubber items like tires. Type 49 is extremely strong and can replace the more traditional materials used for a boat hull, or be used in simple items like bicycle frames.
One of the most interesting applications of this material is its use in shelters for protection against tornadoes. The shed-like structures can be placed in a garage. Tests show it can deflect large projectiles at speeds of up to 250 mph (402.32 kph). In areas with frequent tornadoes, these shelters may become the best way to protect people from tornadoes.
Under great compression, Kevlar® can buckle, and in some cases, be pierced. After vest made of the material were introduced, for example, people quickly found a way to make bullets that could go through them. These are illegal for sale to consumers, but some armies use them to provide additional strength in ground combat.
In general, however, Kevlar® can be used in many ways to provide protection and for replacement of materials more likely to corrode. It's likely that even more products will be made from it in the futurein the future.