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Canine protective vest company chooses Sonobond equipment to satisfy NIJ waterproof standards

K9 Storm now produces lightweight, rugged, waterproof tactical gear for dogs employed in security and defense in 24 countries.

23rd June 2016

Innovation in Textiles
 |  West Chester, PA

Protective, Clothing/​Footwear

K9 Storm patrol swat vest. © K9 StormK9 Storm, a Canadian-based manufacturer of protective vests for working dogs, has produced new Patrol-Swat vests with Sonobond’s SeamMaster high profile ultrasonic sewing machine in order to satisfy the National Institute of Justice wet-conditioning standards that require ballistic vests to be waterproof (NIJ0101.6).

The vests now have secure watertight enclosures for all their ballistic components, guaranteeing that the company’s canine customers have personal protection comparable to that of their human handlers, the company reports.

Reducing risk of damage

Besides maximum barrier protection, the lightweight, rugged, custom-fitted Kevlar vests also aim to ensure safe amphibious activities.

“Since bulletproof materials – like Kevlar, contained in vests – lose their life-saving effectiveness when exposed to water, it’s absolutely critical that the seams in the inner nylon shell are perfectly fused,” said Melissa Alleman, vice president, Sonobond Ultrasonics.

“Ultrasonic bonding creates a strong molecular bond that’s impervious to moisture and eliminates stitch holes, glue gaps, fraying and unraveling, substantially reducing any risk of damage to the interior contents of the vest.”

Protection and mobility

Highly trained dogs now assist in law enforcement, military, border control and emergency response situations. Whether they are detecting explosives or illicit drugs or helping to find or capture criminals or potential terrorists, they are exposed to increasingly perilous conditions.

K9 Storm was established in 1997 by former Winnipeg Police Canine Handler Jim Slater. While he and his police service dog Olaf served in Joint Forces Operations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emergency Response Team, Slater found nothing on the market that could protect Olaf and still allow him the mobility required during encounters with armed individuals.

K9 Storm now produces lightweight, rugged, waterproof tactical gear for dogs employed in security and defense in 24 countries. The canine vests also provide stab protection and feature a built-in harness and load-bearing capabilities to enable the dog to rappel and parachute, as well as remove non-compliant suspects. A built-in platform for camera and communications systems allow the dog’s handler to see what the dog sees and provide instructions.

Ultrasonic assembly for canine vest production

Prior to learning about Sonobond’s ultrasonic equipment via the Internet, K9 Storm used a single-needle assembly method for its Patrol-Swat vests. The company decided to acquire its first ultrasonic sewing machine based on the equipment’s ability to help meet NIJ water submersion standards, and the speed and ease-of-use of the equipment.

SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine. © Sonobond/K9 Storm

“K9 Storm uses the lightest possible materials when manufacturing the custom-fit K9 Storm Patrol-Swat vests. The Sonobond ultrasonic seaming system is an integral part of the manufacturing process enabling us to achieve watertight ballistic enclosures,” said Jim Slater, president, K9 Storm.

Advantages of ultrasonic bonding

Ultrasonic bonding occurs when woven or nonwoven materials or blends with a minimum of 60% synthetic fibres are placed between the machine’s horn and anvil or, in the case of the SeamMaster, rotating wheel. High-frequency vibrations result in localized heat build-up that causes the synthetic fibres to soften and fuse, creating a durable seal without needles, thread, glue or other consumables.

The SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Sewing Machine is suitable for sealing the inner nylon shell of body armour systems. Its patented rotary operation bonds and trims synthetic materials in one step and its large, high-clearance wheel provides easy access for bulky materials and hand-guided operations.

According to the manufacturer, the machine is up to four times faster than conventional sewing machines and 10 times faster than adhesive methods. It has the added advantage of resembling a sewing machine and being easy to operate with only minimal training. The machine is also available as a modular unit that can be integrated into production lines.

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