Delamination can be defined as areas with poor or no bonding between layers of materials making up hard armor plates. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of damage for composite materials as it can bend, crack, and weaken the strength of plates. Delamination of personal-use body armor is pretty rare, and usually only found in armor used for combat, infantry, and other high-wear situations, but it is still a possibility for everyday-wear body armor to delaminate.
Body armor should be routinely examined to ensure its quality has been withheld and its protection level is still intact. To determine if your body armor has experienced any delamination, there are two at-home tests that can be performed: the tap test and the torque test.
The Tap Test
The tap test is the number one test to check for delamination in body armor. It is only conducted on front and back plates, and should not be conducted on side plates. When conducting the tap test, you should listen for one of two sounds – a chime or a thud. In this instance, a chime signals good armor and a thud signals issues with your armor.
Follow the steps below to conduct the tap test:
- Place plate on fingertips with strike face facing down
- Hold tap tool with a firm grip about 2 inches above the plate
- Starting with the outer edges, and working your way toward the center, tap on the plate every two inches in a circular motion
- *Be sure not to tap on the center or on a label, as this will result in a thud noise regardless of the state of the armor
- If you hear only chimes, your armor is in good working condition. If you hear any thuds, your armor needs to be replaced, as it is experiencing delamination.
The Torque Test
The torque test also helps evaluate body armor for internal damage and cracks. Similar to the tap test, the torque test should only be conducted on front and back plates.
Follow the steps below to conduct the torque test:
- Grab one corner of the plate with one hand and the opposite corner with the other hand
- Twist the plate in opposite motions and listen for crumbling, rattling, or crunching sounds
- Repeat with the other corners
- Push plate against your stomach and push down on the outer edges of the plate to feel for any crumbling
- If you notice any noises or feel any internal damage, it’s time to replace your plates.
To learn more about how to conduct a proper tap or torque test on your body armor, check out this video from PdM ICE, an organization dedicated to assisting marines with combat equipment. Or, reach out to us at Next Day Armor. Our experts would be more than willing to help determine whether your body armor is in good condition, or if it’s time for an upgrade.