Did you know that the lowly “sawale” (woven bamboo mat) is being considered as a key material in making body armor to protect and save the lives of our armed forces?
The Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) recently found that the woven bamboo mat, paired with a stainless steel plate, can be used as a bullet-resistant vest strong enough to absorb the force of pistol shots. A prototype vest was even light enough for use in combat and 700% cheaper than most imported body armor.
According to DOST-FPRDI’s Director Romulo T. Aggangan, “This was an initial study in support of the Department of National Defense’s (DND) Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Program. SRDP seeks to help the country become self-sufficient in its basic military needs by producing its own weapons such as small arms, ammunitions, and tactical communications equipment, among others.”
In January 2018, DOST and DND signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which provided a framework for their scientific and technical cooperation to achieve SRDP.
Under the DND-DOST partnership, DOST-FPRDI has committed to develop explosives and propellants using local materials such as abaca, and gums and resins from native forest tree species.
“After research and development, we will be piloting promising production processes to see if they are technically and financially viable as well as environmentally and socially acceptable,” added Aggangan. “Our goal is to help boost the country’s internal defense capability, given the security threat posed by both communist insurgents and Islamic extremists.” (DOST-FPRDI)