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.
School security today is practically unrecognizable from that of little over a decade ago. Installing metal detectors and bulletproof glass in our schools would have seemed unnecessary in the early- to mid-90s. However, that preconception was challenged on April 20th, 1990: the day of the Columbine High School Shooting.
Protecting your business from theft and armed robbery is a matter of ethical and commercial necessity. There were almost 300,000 robberies carried out across the US in 2017 alone; 118,745 of which involved firearms. This represents an enormous concern for store clerks who routinely operate in positions of vulnerability. The priority in commercial security should always be ensuring the safety of your most valuable asset; your employees.