Dutch Artist Works to Create Bulletproof Skin

Strike FaceWhile the Pentagon is focused on building an “Iron Man” suit for first-in-the-door troops, a Dutch artist has been looking at ways to make human skin bulletproof.

It was just over a dozen years ago than a Dutch artist – whose medium is living, organic materials – read about a researcher who bred transgenic goats whose milk contained spider silk that could be harvested in large quantities. The objective was to create enough of the stuff to build better body armor.

“I thought, why bother with bulletproof vest, why not create a bulletproof human instead?” Jalila Essaïdi of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, told the Reuters news service in a recent interview.

What to Essaïdi began as an art project soon became “2.6g 329m/s” – a project name drawn from the maximum weight and velocity of a .22 caliber long rifle round that Type 1 body armor should be able to stop. Today, on the homepage of her website, you can see some of the results – including a video of a .22 round fired at a reduced speed that was stopped by the skin.

The targets in the test firings were made up of just four layers of the spider silk-human skin blend, cell biologist Abdoelwaheb El Ghalbzouri of the Leiden University Medical Center told Reuters. A Kevlar vest, he says, is made up of 33 layers of material.

“We believe that if we generate a skin model with 33 layers, I think we can definitely hold a bullet,” he said.

bulletproof-skin1

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is an associate editor and White House correspondent for Military.com. Bryant covers all corners of the military arena, is an expert on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" issues, religious proselytizing and other ongoing military policy issues. He has covered Air Force support missions during the Kosovo War and in 2006 the aero-medical evacuation mission out of Balad Air Base, Iraq.A journalist since 1979, Jordan also covered stories in Lebanon, Gaza and Morocco. During the Vietnam War he was assigned to 15th Admin. Co., 1st Cavalry Division, Bien Hoa Army Base. Before joining Military.com Jordan was a staff writer and deputy news editor for Military Timesnewspapers in Springfield, Va.

18 Comments on "Dutch Artist Works to Create Bulletproof Skin"

  1. The tissue regeneration on spider silk is the really amazing part, great possibilities here for new organs and burn victims.

  2. It might hold a bullet, but how would it swamp up the kinetic energy and prevent organ damage?

  3. http://jalilaessaidi.com/2-6g-329ms/

    "…By implementing this bulletproof matrix of spider silk produced by transgenic goats in human skin"

    I'm guessing they grew a skin matrix in vitro using a silk mesh as a scaffold. In short, this may be more lie silk with skin cells attached to it. The skin angle is just the art project half of it.

    Silk is a secreted product, and so unless you had a gland that could move under the dermis and weave a silk web under your skin regenerative spider-silk skin is a dream.

    Or spiders that lived under your skin. Isn't that fun?

  4. Add it or similar product to current body armor construction to reduce weight and improve wearability and protection? Wear it as a thin "last chance" layer under armor or to cover areas of the body not protected by armor?

  5. Interesting, and its a lot more feasible than this dumb Iron Man brainstorm the Navy thought of. I would say stropping a .22lr is easy and I don't think makes you bullet proof a 7.62x39mm round is a lot higher in velocity and w/o armored plates will punch threw light armor. though is this good research.

  6. Guys,

    This is from an ARTIST. She's doing performance art, an anti-military-industrial-political piece. If this were genuine research to grow silk in a cloth-like matrix, why use human skin?

  7. Next up Defense Tech discusses what the Pentagon has learned from extensive studies of Superman comics.

  8. For ever ground pounder out there also have a helicopter drone or two assigned to that one guy. Anyone who dared to engage that one soldier would be engaged by the helo drones. Better yet skip the ground pounder part and enforce your will with the helo drones alone.

  9. Integrating it into cloth or a plate is one thing, but if you tried to integrate it into human skin, you would get a huge immune reaction and rejection of the foreign protein. One week your skin is bullet proof, and the next week your skin is falling off, and the next you're dead. The solutions to those problems, like immunosuppression or human genetic engineering,are even more complex.

    An alternative, partial solution, is that you can increase skin thickness on your body by repeated mechanical stress and injection of various chemicals. Thick leathery skin.

  10. Put the same energy into defeating the enemy without a shot being fired. OH! We have that. Nuclear!

  11. Bullet proof skin? Would it stop a misquito? Colors would be nice too…….

  12. Yeah, so would moving around b a problem? Cause I don't wanna go out will batman 2night 2 find joker and realize I cant do a triple back flip anymore cause it doesn't allow flexibility.

  13. What about the guys that leave the service and become bad guys? A bunch of bullet proof bad guys sounds really bad to me.

  14. Gonna make inoculations and surgery a bit difficult.

  15. Already been done. A few good drinks and I get bullet proof.

  16. ABDELKADER HAMDAOUI | March 13, 2014 at 3:06 am | Reply

    The best way of getting rid of one's enemy or someone with a gun is to make her a friend and once that's achieved stab her in the back.

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