A US manufacturer of body armor for law enforcement and military applications was in search of a more effective way to leak test the integrity of ballistic packaging used in the production of their bulletproof vests. Requirements stipulated that the ballistic material needed to be kept dry in order to meet performance expectations — water ingress into the ballistic material would cause it to degrade and ultimately put the user at risk. The manufacturers ballistic material is protected in a waterproof, heat-sealed envelope or package. In order to verify the integrity of the package, each one needed be leak tested and verified to be leak proof.
The bulletproof vest manufacturers leak test method of submerging their packaged product in water was messy, slow, and lacked the sensitivity needed to be truly effective. Packages failing the leak test had to be discarded — the ballistic material within required a water-free environment. The challenge was to develop an effective and repeatable technique to leak test a sealed package, locating both fine and gross leaks.
LACO's team of engineers and leak test professionals developed a test method called Force Decay — an innovative way of detecting leaks in sealed flexible products or packaging.
The process of manufacturing and packaging ballistic bulletproof vests naturally traps some air within them. LACO's engineers designed a custom test chamber to create internal pressure on the package by evacuating the chamber. The inflated package creates a force against a force gauge where it can be measured. If the package has a gross leak, it will deflate very quickly or not inflate at all. For smaller leaks the force gauge measures the pressure loss as the package slowly deflates. By carefully calculating the reduced pressure over time, a leak rate for the product is identified and thereby provides the manufacturer a fast, simple, and non-destructive method to evaluate each ballistic package.
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