A new knife-proof smart material developed by the University of Bolton is now being developed for new markets. Working with Future Textiles in Derbyshire, the new material, SARK, had been originally created to protect the police, armed forces and security personnel. Now the Home Office-approved SARK material is being developed for other users – motorcyclists, hunters, butchers and timber merchants.

Leading the project is Professor Subhash Anand of the University’s Institute for Materials Research and Innovation. Said Prof Anand: ‘When Future Textiles started talking to customers they realised there were other applications for knife-resistant materials. We are now looking at a wide range of developments. SARK makes an ideal protective layer clothing fabric for motorcyclists, the same properties that prevent knife-slash wounds will give greater protection to a motorcyclist’s flesh in the event of an accident. Likewise, butchers and timber merchants currently use chain-mail gloves which damage the skin. SARK material would give comparable protection but in a breathable-fabric glove. We have also been talking to companies in Nordic countries producing clothing for hunters. They frequently need to wade through brambles; SARK could be a useful protective base layer for them.’

Future Textiles has worked with the University on SARK since the smart material’s inception in 2008, knitting the material on its machines ready for the first tests. SARK was originally developed to protect from knife attacks and gives greater protection than the stab-proof vests traditionally used by police, armed forces and security personnel. It covers the arms, neck and the head, with a hood. A composite material of four fibres, SARK also has an anti-microbial coating to protect against viruses such as MRSA.

Said Future textiles owner, Aiden Tracy: ‘We can now offer Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB)-accredited fabric at two levels, withstanding both 40 Newtons and 80 Newtons of force. We feel this can provide efficient protection that is comfortable to wear. We are also working on developing the fabric to be used in the automotive industry as a protection cover for lorries, which are currently vulnerable to thieves slashing open their tarpaulins and stealing loads.’

SARK is named after the four developers: Subhash (Anand), Aiden (Tracy), Raj (Rajendran) and Karthick (Kanchi Govarthanam). SARK means ‘shirt’ in Gaelic.

This story is reprinted from material from the University of Bolton, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.