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Welcome to WLS Unloaded,
This show is brought to you by Aero Precision & Crossed Rifles.
My name is Shawn Herrin, And our Guest is Blake Waldrop from RMA Defense
BIO: Blake is the Founder and CEO of RMA Defense. Blake was also a Marine and Law Enforcement officer and knows what it’s like to wear body armor and put your life into a product’s hands and it’s his mission to design and produce the highest quality armor at the most affordable prices.
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Evolution of Armor Technology: From Gun Oil to Composite Armor
In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating journey of Blake, a former U.S. Marine turned entrepreneur, who ventured into the world of composite armor manufacturing. His story takes us through the evolution of armor technology and the passion that drove him to create innovative solutions to protect lives.
From Marine to Policeman
Blake’s journey began with his service as a U.S. Marine from 2001 to 2005. After his honorable discharge, he found himself at a crossroads, tempted by re-enlistment bonuses during the Iraq War but determined to be present for his young family. This led him to a career in law enforcement, where he served for over six years, a time he both cherished and found challenging.
The Genesis of Composite Armor
While working in law enforcement, Blake stumbled upon an unexpected opportunity. He started a side business selling gun oil, a venture driven by his entrepreneurial spirit. Little did he know that this venture would pave the way for his foray into composite armor manufacturing.
An Unexpected Demand
One day, Blake listed a set of old hard armor plates on eBay, remnants from his days in law enforcement. To his surprise, he received a flood of inquiries from individuals eager to purchase more. This unexpected demand set off a light bulb moment, sparking his interest in armor technology.
Honoring a Fallen Brother
The tragic loss of a fellow Marine during combat further fueled Blake’s determination to improve armor technology. He wondered if better armor could have saved his comrade’s life, leading him to explore ways to enhance protective gear for military and law enforcement personnel.
The Journey to Innovation
Blake’s journey into armor manufacturing began in earnest when he used his retirement funds to finance research and development. He filed a patent for a revolutionary design—a segmented strike face for ceramic plates. This design allowed for multiple hits on the plate without compromising its integrity, a game-changing innovation in armor technology.
Building a Company
Blake’s commitment to creating superior armor led him to establish RMA Defense. From modest beginnings, his company has grown significantly. Today, RMA Defense boasts 10 acres of facilities and millions of dollars worth of equipment, a testament to Blake’s dedication and vision.
Blake’s journey from being a Marine to a law enforcement officer and, eventually, an armor technology innovator showcases the power of determination and the pursuit of excellence. His story serves as an inspiring example of how passion and a commitment to making a difference can lead to groundbreaking advancements in critical industries.
Understanding Ballistic Armor: Materials, Manufacturing, and Certification
Ballistic armor plays a critical role in protecting individuals in high-risk situations, such as law enforcement officers, military personnel, and civilians facing potential threats. In this article, we will delve into the world of ballistic armor, its materials, manufacturing processes, and the importance of certification.
The Role of Armor Materials
Ballistic armor is designed to absorb and disperse the energy from projectiles, such as bullets, to minimize injury or penetration. It’s crucial to understand the materials used in these plates and how they function.
– **Steel Penetrators:** Some projectiles have steel penetrators that may not get entirely destroyed by ceramic materials. This leftover energy underscores the importance of the armor’s composition.
– **Ceramic Plates:** Ceramic plates are often a key component of ballistic armor. However, on their own, ceramics can be insufficient if they are the only defense against high-velocity projectiles.
– **Polyethylene’s Role:** Polyethylene serves to disperse and absorb the remaining energy after ceramics. Think of it as a catcher’s mitt stopping a fast pitch; without it, the impact would be devastating.
Manufacturing and Bonding
Manufacturing ballistic armor involves marrying ceramics and polyethylene. This process requires precise adhesion to ensure the plates remain intact under duress.
– **Adhesive Bonding:** Armor manufacturers use pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSA) to bond ceramic and polyethylene together. This critical step necessitates pressure, often applied through autoclaving.
– **Autoclaving:** Autoclaving is a common method to apply the required pressure for the bonding process. Most manufacturers employ this technique to ensure the durability of their armor plates.
– **Preventing Delamination:** Proper bonding prevents delamination, ensuring that the plate stays together, even after taking multiple hits.
Innovations in Armor Materials
Innovations in armor materials are ongoing, with a focus on enhancing protection and reducing weight. One notable change is the shift from aluminum oxide to silicon carbide.
– **Silicon Carbide:** Silicon carbide is gaining popularity due to its similar properties to aluminum oxide while offering potential improvements in armor effectiveness.
Challenges in Armor Development
Developing reliable ballistic armor is no easy feat. It involves extensive research and development, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
– **Trial and Error:** Early stages of armor development involve substantial trial and error. Failures are common, but they serve as valuable lessons in perfecting the armor.
– **Lack of References:** Armor development lacks comprehensive references or guides. Expertise in this field is rare, and those who possess it often work for competitors, making knowledge-sharing difficult.
RMA’s Approach to Ballistic Armor
RMA, a renowned armor manufacturer, follows a customer-driven mission and stands out in several ways.
Made in the USA
RMA prioritizes using American-made raw materials, from ceramics to polyethylene and adhesives. This commitment proved vital during times like the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chains were disrupted.
RMA’s competitive pricing stems from its independent status. Unlike some competitors who answer to parent companies, RMA can focus on providing affordable armor without the pressure of meeting corporate profit targets.
RMA places importance on National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certification, recognizing that it adds credibility to their products. Achieving NIJ certification is challenging, as it involves rigorous testing and evaluation.
RMA’s Level IV plate, particularly the single-curve and multi-curve versions, stands out as their most popular product. These plates provide high-level protection and are available in various kit options.
Understanding ballistic armor, its materials, and manufacturing processes is vital for anyone considering its use. RMA’s commitment to quality, affordability, and NIJ certification sets them apart in an industry where trust and reliability are paramount. Whether for law enforcement, the military, or civilian use, ballistic armor plays a crucial role in personal safety, and choosing the right manufacturer is key to ensuring that safety.
The Importance of Certification and Quality in Body Armor Manufacturing
In the world of body armor manufacturing, quality and certification are paramount. This article delves into the significance of certification, the rigorous testing processes, and the impact on safety and reputation in the industry.
Certification: More Than a Piece of Metal
Certification in body armor is not just a piece of paper; it’s a mark of reliability and trust. Manufacturers who are National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified go through extensive processes, including ISO certification, which ensures quality. This process is not a mere formality but a rigorous examination of a product’s capabilities.
A common misconception is that body armor is all about stopping bullets. While that’s undoubtedly crucial, certification goes beyond this. Certified armor must withstand extreme conditions, including heat, cold, drop tests, and even water submersion. These tests ensure the armor’s durability under various circumstances, protecting lives.
Imported Armor: A Risky Business
Not all armor is created equal. Armor imported from overseas may lack the scrutiny and audits that certified manufacturers endure. Without these rigorous assessments, the armor’s quality and performance can’t be guaranteed, posing significant risks to users.
The Unseen Dangers
Many factors can compromise armor performance, such as exposure to extreme temperatures or mishandling. Leaving armor in the trunk of a car can affect its ballistic performance. Certification addresses these unseen dangers, providing users with confidence in their gear’s reliability.
A Long Road to Certification
Manufacturers like RMA put in substantial effort to achieve certification. Testing involves exposing plates to harsh environments like heat chambers and drop tests, weeding out any flaws. This commitment ensures that certified armor has been thoroughly vetted.
The Ongoing Challenge
Maintaining certification is an ongoing challenge. Frequent fit tests and inspections keep manufacturers on their toes. These assessments are crucial to guarantee that armor remains reliable throughout its lifespan.
When Things Go Wrong
Even the most reliable products can face hiccups. In one instance, a certified plate exhibited a penetration during testing, raising concerns. Swift action, including segregation of the affected lot and extensive testing, was taken to ensure product integrity.
The Human Touch
Stories of lives saved by body armor are a testament to the importance of quality. From security guards in Detroit to individuals facing home invasions, certified armor has proven its worth, providing peace of mind to users.
Warranty: A Commitment to Quality
Reputable manufacturers stand by their products with warranties. RMA offers a 10-year warranty on its Level IV plates, showcasing their confidence in their quality and durability.
Reputation in the Crosshairs
In the digital age, reputation is fragile. Internet forums like Reddit can be both a boon and a bane. While some users may criticize, it’s essential to separate constructive feedback from baseless accusations.
Handling Online Criticism
Online trolls and keyboard warriors thrive, but addressing legitimate concerns is crucial. Manufacturers like RMA have faced criticism but are open to discussing and improving their products transparently.
A Transparent Approach
Some companies choose silence in the face of criticism, but transparent communication builds trust. RMA’s willingness to address issues and openly discuss them demonstrates their commitment to quality and user safety.
In the world of body armor, certification isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s a symbol of trust and reliability. Rigorous testing, ongoing quality checks, and transparent communication are essential to ensuring that armor keeps saving lives. Manufacturers like RMA understand the importance of certification and quality, standing by their products and their commitment to safety.
In this article, we’ve explored the critical role of certification and quality in body armor manufacturing. We’ve seen how certification goes beyond mere bulletproof capabilities, encompassing durability under extreme conditions. Imported armor without proper audits poses risks, and unseen factors can affect performance. Achieving and maintaining certification is a rigorous process, and even the most reliable products may face challenges. However, real-life stories highlight the importance of quality armor in saving lives. Reputable manufacturers offer warranties and address online criticism transparently, fostering trust in their products. Ultimately, certification is a symbol of trust and reliability in the world of body armor, ensuring user safety and peace of mind.
The Challenges and Responsibility of Producing Body Armor
In recent times, the production of body armor has faced its fair share of challenges and scrutiny. This article delves into a conversation that sheds light on the intricacies of the body armor industry, its role in society, and the responsibility of manufacturers in ensuring the safety and security of individuals.
Navigating Bad Press
The discussion opens with a reference to an unfortunate incident where a criminal used a particular brand of body armor during a heinous act. The manufacturer found themselves thrust into the spotlight, facing intense media scrutiny. This incident raises several critical points:
– **No Control Over Misuse**: The manufacturer acknowledges the harsh reality that they cannot control how their products are used. If someone chooses to misuse their body armor for evil purposes, there is little the manufacturer can do to prevent it.
– **Condemnation of Criminal Acts**: It’s essential to separate the actions of criminals from the products themselves. The manufacturer firmly condemns any criminal activity involving their products and expresses their desire to see justice served in such cases.
– **Media and Public Perception**: The media often seizes on such incidents, and the conversation highlights the challenges of dealing with sensationalist reporting and the importance of conveying facts and logic.
The Right to Bear Armor
The conversation touches upon the changing landscape of body armor ownership. Traditionally associated with law enforcement, body armor has seen a surge in demand from ordinary citizens concerned about their safety, particularly in crime-ridden urban areas.
– **Expanding Consumer Base**: This shift in consumer demographics means that the majority of customers are now everyday individuals who seek protection for themselves and their families.
– **Threats to Body Armor Ownership**: The conversation acknowledges the disturbing trend of proposed legislation aimed at banning body armor in certain states. Such legislation is often reactionary and fails to address the root causes of violence.
– **Protecting Rights**: The manufacturer underscores the importance of defending citizens’ rights to own body armor, emphasizing that these rights are not granted by the government but are intrinsic to individuals.
Research and Development
One of the essential aspects of the body armor industry is continuous research and development (R&D). The conversation reveals the commitment to improving the quality of body armor by making it lighter, stronger, and more affordable.
– **R&D for Better Protection**: R&D efforts focus on developing body armor that offers better protection without compromising comfort and affordability.
– **Lighter Armor**: Lighter body armor is a priority, as it reduces physical strain on the wearer, making it more practical for various scenarios, including training and active-shooter situations.
– **Consumer-Friendly Pricing**: Ensuring that these improvements do not lead to exorbitant prices is crucial to make effective body armor accessible to a broader range of people.
The discussion concludes with an invitation for open communication with the manufacturer, emphasizing their commitment to transparency and willingness to address any questions or concerns from the public.
In an increasingly complex world, the body armor industry faces not only technical challenges but also societal and political ones. Balancing the right to personal safety with responsible production is a delicate task, and this conversation sheds light on the industry’s dedication to achieving this balance.
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