The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Soldier modernization in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Anti-ballistic clothing fibers.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Anti-ballistic clothing fibres is a key innovation area in soldier modernisation

Anti-ballistic clothing is designed and manufactured using a variety of natural and synthetic fibres to enhance ballistic protection and survivability. Of these fibres, the two most common synthetic fibres are aramid (kevlar) and UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene), which are considered high performance fibres, though others types such as carbon fibres and ceramic fibres are beginning to attain this classification as well.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of anti-ballistic clothing fibres.

Key players in anti-ballistic clothing fibres – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Honeywell International is the leader in terms of global patent filings regarding anti-ballistic clothing fibres, having developed and improved its signature Spectra ballistic protection fibres for integration in armoured vehicles and personal protective equipment. Royal DSM is another key developer of anti-ballistic clothing fibres, having launched a new product portfolio based on its Trosar ballistic fibres last year. Teijin ’s subsidiary Teijin Aramid has also introduced its new Twaron ballistic fibres for integration in new ballistic vest designs. Some other key patent filers in the automotive industry include Boeing, Milliken, DuPont de Nemours , Gentex and Elbit Systems .

In terms of application diversity, Umicore leads the pack. W.L. Gore & Associates and Elbit Systems were close behind, ranked in second and third place, respectively. By means of geographic reach, FEDUR held the top position, followed by Berry Global Group and Gentex .

As governments look to modernise their personal protective equipment to ensure the survival of human operators, the development of new anti-ballistic clothing fibres will remain a key area of technological expertise and innovation over the coming years. Advances in additive manufacturing and composite materials will provide further applications for anti-ballistic fibres in the aerospace & defence industry and beyond over the coming decades.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.