Responding to the need for protective equipment at the beginning of a large-scale war, our team turned to Polish armor manufacturers and arranged the supply of high-quality body armor to Ukraine
Overview of steel plates
Ballistic and shatter test of class 4 slabs
Reinforced bullet with a steel core
After the beginning of the large-scale aggression of Russia, the team members organized themselves to provide the Ukrainian defenders with everything necessary. A convenient factor for the organization of the volunteering process was that Vlad and Anya were in Poland, where it was possible to find the necessary goods, and Taras was not far from the Polish border. This helped build a complete supply chain: from determining the needs of the military and TRO, to procurement, transportation and transportation across the border.
Already at the initial stage, it became clear that bulletproof vests would become such a product, the demand for which would be almost unlimited in the first weeks, and maybe even months, of the war. On the other hand, the number of available body armor in Europe was limited, which caused the price of the product to increase from 300 to 700-900 USD.
After several questions from familiar volunteers, "Would we like to do bulletproof vests?", we seriously thought about it. The only problem was that we were not the only ones who thought about it. When we started contacting the manufacturers of the appropriate steel (the most popular for these purposes is Hardox), they already felt excessive demand, partially blocked orders, raised prices and extended deadlines.
At this time, a good friend of ours, who runs a family business for the production of excavator elements, advised us the company Miilux, which deals with armor steel and already makes standard armor plates. We immediately contacted the factory, studied the assortment and chose the Miilux Protection 500 plates, 6-6.5 mm thick, most suitable for military needs.
On the other hand, we were lucky enough to meet Polish soldiers from one of the shooting clubs. Since the beginning of the large-scale war, they began to train men for free who intended to return to Ukraine and defend the Motherland. Thanks to the combination of these capabilities, we were able to very quickly organize the process of testing armor plates using different assault rifles and bullets. We received the first samples on March 11, and already on March 20 the first 150 bulletproof vests were delivered to Ukraine.
The biggest problem at the initial stage was the financing of the entire operation. Ballistic plates make up 80% of the cost of the entire body armor, and manufacturers agreed to work only for 100% advance payment. Given that we previously only worked on a volunteer model (making our own donations or collecting donations from acquaintances), we were forced to consider a commercial model in the case of bulletproof vests.
To do this, we started collecting orders from the military and volunteers also on a prepaid basis. Considering the acute shortage of bulletproof vests and the low price of our product (we decided to supply bulletproof vests at a price close to cost), the first 500 bulletproof vests "flew away" within three days after the start of the collection of applications. In order to organize such a process from a financial point of view, a simple CRM system and a popular fundraising platform in Poland were built - years of experience in IT helped to keep orders in order.
Product quality was another important task for us. Since the goal was primarily to help, not to make money, we could afford to supply only the product that could protect the soldiers at least 90% of the time. That is why we independently conducted 7 different tests with shooting plates and "donated" at least 15 plates for these purposes.
It quickly became clear that the slabs themselves are strong, and our Polish military found no bullet to penetrate the slab, confirming NIJ Class 4. A difficult element of the process was finding the optimal anti-debris coating. Most of the tests were performed specifically to find the specification and materials that would allow to reduce the amount of debris to a minimum. After numerous attempts, we settled on granulated rubber, with appropriate gluing with a special glue and application of a waterproofing coating.
An additional task was to find plate carriers of appropriate quality. Fortunately, setting up the tailoring process does not require significant costs, so within 2-3 weeks we managed to find Ukrainian and Polish manufacturers who were able to provide the appropriate quality at a good price. Only the first batch consisted entirely of plate carriers of Chinese production, the rest of the deliveries were 80% Ukrainian.
Basic information about the specification:
Armor steel Miilux Protection 500
A rectangle with cut corners, bent by a press
8 mm thick beaded rubber, glued with Wurth K+D glue
According to the specification of the classes of protection and confirmation from the military, who fired shots, our product is equivalent to NIJ class 4. Also, our plates are certified according to the FB6 standard by the manufacturer, we can provide the certificate upon request.