Bullet-resistant glass is an increasingly attractive prospect from an investment perspective, providing a range of tangible benefits beyond merely the obvious. This is reflected by significant growth in the market. According to a recent report, the bullet-resistant glass industry is expected to almost double in value by 2023, from a current worth of US$4.5 billion to approximately US$9.8 billion by 2023. There is no single answer as to why the market is experiencing such a significant uptick. National property and violent crime statistics are trending downwards over a 10-year period, so it is not simply an issue of supply and demand.
Security is a priority for any homeowner, and the risk of criminals forcing entry – however unlikely – is a real concern. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) releases an annual uniform crime report (UCR) that explores statistical trends in different categories of criminal activity, including property crime: burglary, larceny-theft, arson, etc. In 2017, burglary accounted for as much as 18.2% of all property-related crime in the U.S., while property crime, in general, caused approximate losses of $15.3 billion. It is easy to understand why more and more domestic homeowners are turning to heavy-duty security solutions, like bulletproof doors, to protect their families and their property.
Although lightweight, bullet-resistant fiberglass panels can contend with the heaviest materials when it comes to cost-effective security solutions. Fiberglass can outperform structural steel in terms of strength on a pound-to-pound basis, and the installation costs are dramatically lower than those of metallic armor plating. Consequently, ballistic-grade fiberglass panels are now one of the leading security solutions for robust architectural installations.
School security is now a big business in the US, topping $2.7 billion in revenue during 2017. This figure is not solely attributed to physical security (i.e. bullet-resistant doors), but such measures are increasingly commonplace in campuses from coast-to-coast.
Blast-proof windows are engineered to withstand explosive forces without shattering and also remaining in the window opening. Standard silica glass is a fairly hard material, with a mean Mohs hardness rating of 5 placing it directly in the middle of the scale between talc and diamond. However, hardness is a poor measure of how well a material can absorb incoming forces. Glass is notoriously prone to shattering in response to even moderate forces, making it a limited security solution and even a potential safety concern in the unlikely event of an explosion.
Bulletproof steel doors are an attractive option for improving security by placing a ballistic-resistant barrier between a perceived ‘safe side’ and an area where there is a live threat. They are practical, heavy-duty solutions that can seal a safe room or entryway to significantly delay the time it takes for armed individuals to force entry. Steel doors can also stop multiple rounds of varying velocities depending on their Underwriter’s Laboratory classification. So, just how ‘bulletproof’ are bulletproof steel doors?
Bulletproof doors perform the dual-purpose of protecting against penetration by ballistics and blasts, while also functioning as a normal entryway. Products that prioritize security above all else can sacrifice some of the important day-to-day functionalities that are essential for normal working conditions: employees must be able to communicate with consumers through transaction windows; pedestrians will want to see through the windows of shopfronts. These are simple indicators that business is carrying on as usual – indicators that can be inhibited by subpar bulletproof goods.
Within a few short years, the global market for bulletproof glass is expected to reach $7.65 billion after significant growth and investment in virtually every region. This represents an increase of almost double the market value in just six years. Europe and North America are tipped to maintain a disproportionate share of both supply and demand as countries in both regions continue to increase spending on defense and security.
Bullet resistant glass is designed to stop projectiles without shattering, absorbing their energy and retaining the bullet. Whether the glass succeeds in safely stopping bullets or not depends on several factors, namely: the material and architecture of the glass; the severity of the impacting force and the projectile material; and the number of subsequent impacts. Guaranteeing the specified level of protection requires a testing methodology that can reconcile each of these dynamic factors.
Ballistic-grade armor used to be specified based primarily on material hardness, hence the pervasive use of steel plates in body armor and vehicular plating. When a projectile strikes a hard surface it can either ricochet, shatter, or penetrate the material. The ideal situation is that a bullet will impact the hard surface of the plate and fracture. The impacting force will disperse as the shrapnel from the shattered bullet spreads out, protecting the safe side of the plate. Yet there is no guarantee that bullets will strike armor panels with the ideal trajectory.