Honeywell Inject $20M into Spectra Armour Industry

11 June 2004

Honeywell to invest $20 million into its Spectra fibre business to meet increasing demand from the armour industry.

The company, over the last three years, had already invested more than $25 million into the business that is part of Honeywell's Specialty Materials division.

Spectra fibre - claimed by Honeywell to be the strongest man-made fibre in commercial use today - is a synthetic polyethylene fibre developed in the mid-1980s by AlliedSignal, the company that merged with Honeywell in 1999. AlliedSignal had set up a pilot facility in Virginia which still serves as the base for Spectra fibre.

Spectra fibre, pound for pound, is claimed to be 10 times stronger than steel but light enough to float and Honeywell markets it as the strongest man-made fibre in commercial use. In addition to its use for military vehicles, Spectra Shield plates are now used by U.S. soldiers as lightweight inserts that can be worn in an Interceptor vest to ward off bullets and shrapnel. The plates are only four pounds each and are strong enough to stop rounds from an AK-47.

This is the third year Honeywell has been in the U.S. military's Small Arms Protective Insert program, following a successful run in live combat duty following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

”Honeywell is fully dedicated to being the premier supplier of high performance fibres to the North American armour industry,” said Dr. Nance K. Dicciani, president and CEO of Honeywell Specialty Materials. “Honeywell has invested more than $25 million in Spectra fibre research and production in the past three years. Today, we’re entering a new stage of development that will enable Honeywell to even further expand its support of the armour industry, to service new industry segments and to continue to drive innovation in specialty fibres.”

Research keeps making the plates stronger but Honeywell says the key is making them lighter.

“Spectra fibre’s unique qualities and extraordinary strength have made Honeywell a preferred supplier of weight-for-weight, stronger-than-steel fibres to companies serving the U.S. military,” aid Mike Ryan, vice president and general manager, Performance Products, Honeywell Specialty Materials. “By undertaking a substantial capacity expansion in Chesterfield County, Virginia, we’re reinforcing a leading position in the North American armour industry. We believe that the eventual addition of new facilities will enable us to even further distinguish Honeywell in the global marketplace.”

Honeywell said additional investments to boost Spectra fibre production can be expected. France, India, Turkey and Taiwan are a few of Honeywell's global military clients purchasing Spectra Shield products.

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