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)
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.