Definitions

Zylon

Zylon

Zylon is a trademarked name for a range of thermoset polyurethane synthetic polymer materials manufactured by the Toyobo Corporation. Zylon was invented and developed by SRI International in the 1980s. Like Kevlar, Zylon is used in a number of applications that require very high strength with excellent thermal stability. Tennis racquets, Table Tennis blades, various medical applications, and some of the martian rovers are some of the more well known instances.

IUPAC name: poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole)

The particular subset that Zylon is derived from are the EBXL-TPU plastics. (From electron beam cross-linked ThermoPlastic Polyurethane).

Usage

Body armor

Zylon also gained wide use in U.S. police officers body armor protection in 1998 with its introduction by Second Chance Body Armor, Inc. But protective vests constructed with Zylon became controversial in late 2003 when Oceanside, CA Police Officer Tony Zeppetella's and Forest Hills, PA Police Officer Ed Limbacher's vests failed, leaving Zeppetella mortally wounded and Limbacher seriously injured. Some studies subsequently reported that the Zylon vests may degrade rapidly, leaving wearers with significantly less protection than expected. Second Chance eventually recalled all of its zylon-containing vests, which led to its subsequent bankruptcy. In early 2005, Armor Holdings, Inc. first recalled its existing Zylon-based products, and decreased the rated lifespan warranty of new vests from 60 months to 30 months. In August 2005, AHI decided to discontinue manufacturing all of its Zylon-containing vests. This was largely based on the actions of the U.S. government's National Institute of Justice, which decertified Zylon for use in its approved models of ballistic vests for law enforcement.

Space Elevator Research

A competition was held in the Wirefly X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico, US, on October 20-21, 2006. A team from the University of British Columbia entered into the Tether Challenge, using a construction made from Zylon fibers. And the house tether used by Spaceward that the other teams would have to beat in strength by 50% in the 2007 strong tether challenge was made out of Zylon.

Formula One Racing

Starting in the 2007 season, the driver's cockpit must now be clad in special anti-penetration panels made of Zylon. The Indy Racing League will also use Zylon starting in 2008.

Standing rigging

On modern racing yachts Zylon is used for parts of the standing rigging. It is used as shrouds and stays except the forestay due to torsion weakening the fiber. The PBO fiber degrade by UV and visible light, seawater and shafing and is therefore protected by a synthetic melted-on jacket. It is claimed to be 65% lighter than traditional rigging and the price 110-130% of rodrigging. And even the durability is claimed to be superior, but the statement is based on laboratory tests. It also has a high Young's modulus of 270GPa, meaning that it is very stiff.

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