ArmorWorks is a Chandler, AZ company that makes high-tech military armor protection. While they can up-armor your HMMWV or UH-60 Blackhawk, ArmorWorks also makes personal protective rifle plates and accessories for the soldier.
At the SOFIC Show, I met ArmorWorks associate director Alex Gallo. He showed me some of his company’s latest Modular Plate Carriers, which incorporated an interesting feature: an alternative to the standard nylon gear mounting system ArmorWorks calls their MOLLE Solution.
Gallo explained that common MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment attachments are rows of nylon or canvas-type material sewn in strips across the garment. The nylon and stitching has limited durability, as abrasion and the weight of the mounted accessory carriers can cause the MOLLE material to fray and come apart under heavy use. ArmorWorks went in a whole new direction with their MOLLE Solution.
The face of the MOLLE Solution is covered in a proprietary material that Gallo said is similar to that of a Zodiac boat. It felt like a rubberized fabric to me. He said the equipment mounting slits are cut into the material itself. This reduces the thickness of the plate carrier. Not only MOLLE slits, but lashing holes can be cut into the material.
In addition to reduced bulkiness, the MOLLE Solution provides a much greater strength than conventional sewn cloth. Gallo stated that the breaking strength for normal nylon MOLLE is about 60 lbs. of force. Three times as strong, MOLLE Solution has been tested and withstands 180 lbs. of force.
Gallo produced a sample of the ArmorWorks material. I was not allowed to photograph it (patent pending). He challenged us to stand on it and pull up on a pistol magazine pouch mounted into the MOLLE Solution. Of course, the mag pouch would not tug free or rip the slits on suffering this duress. The proprietary material is self-healing, said Gallo. Upon examining the fabric, it had stretched a very little under force, but rebounded to its former shape.
The MOLLE Solution material can be laser etched for a permanent look. The front hook and loop ArmorWorks logo on one vest was etched (top photo), as was an intricate swirling design on the entire face of another carrier (below). I ran my hand over the etching. It felt like a soft engraving into the material.
I found ArmorWorks MOLLE Solution to be versatile and inventive. The proprietary material is highly durable. It will certainly reduce the overall size of either a plate carrier or a SWAT vest in future versions.