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Kevlar is the registered trademark for a light, strong para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora.

Developed at DuPont in 1965 by Stephanie Kwolek and Herbert Blades,[1] it was first commercially used in the early 1970s. Typically it is spun into ropes or fabric sheets that can be used as such or as an ingredient in composite material components.

Currently, Kevlar has many applications, ranging from bicycle tires and racing sails to body armor because of its high strength-to-weight ratio—famously: "...5 times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis...".[1]

A similar fiber called Twaron with roughly the same chemical structure was introduced by Akzo in 1978, and now manufactured by Teijin.



When Kevlar is spun, the resulting fibre has great tensile strength (ca. 3 000 MPa), a relative density of 1.44, and does not rust. When used as a woven material, it is suitable for mooring lines and other underwater application objects.

There are three grades of Kevlar: (i) Kevlar, (ii) Kevlar 29, and (iii) Kevlar 49. Typically, Kevlar is used as reinforcement in tires and rubber mechanical goods. Kevlar 29's industrial applications are as cables, in asbestos replacement, brake linings, and body armor. Kevlar 49 has the greatest tensile strength of all the aramids, and is used in plastic reinforcement for boat hulls, airplanes, and bicycles. The ultraviolet light component of sunlight degrades and decomposes Kevlar, hence it is rarely used outdoors without protection against sunlight.


Kevlar is synthesised from the monomers 1,4-phenylene-diamine (para-phenylenediamine) and terephthaloyl chloride in condensation reaction yielding hydrochloric acid as a byproduct. The result is a liquid-crystalline behaviour and mechanical drawing orienting the polymer chains in the fibre's direction. Hexamethylphosphoramide (HMPA) was the polymerization solvent first used, but toxicology tests demonstrated it provoked tumors in the noses of rats, so DuPont replaced it by a N-methyl-pyrolidone and calcium chloride as the solvent.

Kevlar production is expensive because of the difficulties arising from using toxic concentrated sulfuric acid, needed to keep the water-insoluble polymer in solution during its synthesis and spinning.

Chemical properties

Fibers of Kevlar consist of long molecular chains produced from PPTA-poly(paraphenylene terephthalamide). There are many inter-chain bonds making the material extremely strong. Kevlar derives part of its high strength from inter-molecular hydrogen bonds formed between the carbonyl groups and protons on neighboring polymer chains and the partial pi stacking of the benzenoid aromatic stacking interactions between stacked strands. These interactions have a greater influence on Kevlar than the van der Waals interactions and chain length that typically influence the properties of other synthetic polymers and fibers such as Dyneema. The presence of salts and certain other impurities, especially calcium, could interfere with the strand interactions and caution is used to avoid inclusion in its production. Kevlar's structure consists of relatively rigid molecules which tend to form mostly planar sheet-like structures rather like silk protein.

Thermal properties

For a polymer Kevlar has very good resistance to high temperatures, and maintains its strength and resilience down to cryogenic temperatures (-196°C); indeed, it is slightly stronger at low temperatures.

At higher temperatures the tensile strength is immediately reduced by about 10-20%, and after some hours the strength progressively reduces further. For example at 160°C about 10% reduction in strength occurs after 500 hours. At 260°C 50% reduction occurs after 70 hours.[2]

At 450°C Kevlar sublimates.



Kevlar is well-known as a component of some bulletproof vests. The US military forces PASGT helmet and vest used from the early 1980s both have Kevlar as a key component, as do their replacements. Civilian applications include Kevlar reinforced clothing for motorcycle riders to protect against abrasion injuries.

Sports equipment

In many cases it is part of a composite material, used in the production of some tennis, badminton and squash rackets, kayaks, and some field hockey and lacrosse sticks. It is used as an inner lining for some bicycle tires to prevent punctures, and due to its excellent heat resistance, is used for fire poi wicks.

Audio equipment

It has also been found to have useful acoustic properties for loudspeaker cones, specifically for bass and midrange drive units[3].

See also


  1. ^ a b What is Kevlar. DuPont. Retrieved on 2007-03-28.
  2. ^ KEVLAR Technical Guide
  3. ^ Audio speaker use


  • Kadolph, Sara J. Anna L. Langford. Textiles, Ninth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc 2002. Upper Sadddle River, NJ
  • D. Tanner, J. A. Fitzgerald, B. R. Phillips (1989). "The Kevlar Story - an Advanced Materials Case Study". Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English 28 (5): 649 - 654. doi:10.1002/anie.198906491.
  • E. E. Magat (1980). "Fibres from Extended Chain Aromatic Polyamides, New Fibres and Their Composites". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series A 294 (1411): 463-472.
  • Kevlar Home Page
  • Kevlar - Design Dictionary Illustrated article about Kevlar
  • Matweb material properties of Kevlar
  • U.S. Patent 5,565,264 
  • Draggin Jeans - Kevlar-reinforced protective motorcycle clothing
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Kevlar". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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