Ariel Schwartz

Bomb-Proof Wallpaper Could Save You in a Natural Disaster

by , 11/18/09

Imagine: a hurricane is barreling towards your house, but instead of hiding in the basement, you can stay safely and comfortably in your living room, all thanks to your X-Flex Blast Protection System wallpaper. It’s not a fantasy; the wallpaper, invented by Berry Plastics in a partnership with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, actually exists — and a single sheet is strong enough to stop a wrecking ball.

sustainable design, green design, building material, new materials, xflex, blast, army, berry

The X-Flex wallpaper is an adhesive with sticky backing that attaches to the inside of brick and cinder walls. According to its designers, covering an entire room takes less than an hour. The wallpaper is so effective that a single layer can keep a wrecking ball from smashing through a brick wall, and a double layer can stop blunt objects (i.e. a flying 2×4) from knocking down drywall.

So how does it work? The X-Flex system features Kevlar-like material in between two sheets of elastic polymer wrap. Apparently, that’s all it takes to keep a wrecking ball from taking down your house.

The Army is already thinking about using the wallpaper on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Berry Plastics plans to sell a commercial version of X-Flex next year.

+ X-Flex

Popsci via Gizmodo

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11 Comments

  1. Blast-Proof Building Cu... June 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    [...] Bomb-proof wallpaper? That’s old hat compared to this new blast-proof curtain developed by Professor Ken Evans at the University of Exeter in the U.K. The curtain, designed to be placed over the windows of high-profile buildings, is woven from yarns of “auxetic”, a remarkable material that actually expands and gets thicker when it is stretched by an explosive impact. [...]

  2. geo1167 April 16, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    i don’t understand what you some of you see. ultimately they may be looking to glue it to the wall and make it similar to a windshield, but it painfully obvious in the video that the plastic film (if glued, not very well because you can see it separate from the bricks) is stretched taught and definitely held in place by being clamped to the wood top and bottom. just checked again and it is standard unistrut. 5 or 6 srews top and bottom and all they did was prove basically was tensile strength. i don’t really think they have done anything special unless it’s cheap as hell.

  3. nacoran November 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    magnusalpha
    magnusalpha Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    The rig doesn’t use the frame to hold the wallpaper in place; as stated in the article, the wallpaper is attached to the surface via adhesive.

    The frame does hold the wallpaper in place. That’s what that adhesive is anchored to. What I was trying to point out is that the frame on regular house is not that robust. When that wall section breaks in half the frame does not seem to be applying any load to it, in fact, the wallpaper seems to be holding wall up. The problem is, in the real world, under these conditions, that frame won’t be that robust. In fact, the wallpaper holding the weight of the now collapsed wall might further collapse the frame of the house.

  4. snojunkie November 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I guess I don’t get it. If it is not anchored to anything then would it only be as good as the substrate. I would think the whole wall would move. Like the commenter said ” The frame is there to keep the wall section from flying off when the wrecking ball impacts” I don’t want a whole wall coming at me either… there has to be some anchoring, right?

    This looks alot like the LifeShield Product that is availble. http://www.securitycoatings.com I looked at their website… check out this blast test. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qceI3uUh_M wow that is a blast test!

    They also had some cool video’s on their site blowing stuff up. I mean if your going to have something be bomb proof then at least blow it up!! :)

  5. asdadadsadada November 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I was promised explosions.

    Where are my explosions.

  6. SND November 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Apparently these guys know nothing about hurricane protection. Having been through countless hurricanes in Southwest Louisiana, your problem will most likely not be projectiles, but falling trees and homes blown away. If you happen to have a basement (however highly unlikely) you will know that flood waters are also a concern so having a basement is pointless. You are most likely to retreat to your attic than stay low. Also typically there is a air gap between the brick and building frame to allow water/humidity to make it’s way down to weep holes, how does this work f you cover this up the backside of the brick with a membrane.

  7. Thraxarious November 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Nice small scale tests, though I would be more interested in seeing larger scale tests in the size of a full house. The wallpaper just allows for an equal distribution of force. I suspect If the supporting frame of a house is damaged, the wall will fall, wallpaper and all.

    Like previous commenters, I would like to see how well it withstands a detonated explosive before anyone goes out buying it for their Villa in Iraq of Afghanistan.

  8. magnusalpha November 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

    The rig doesn’t use the frame to hold the wallpaper in place; as stated in the article, the wallpaper is attached to the surface via adhesive. All that attached surface area acts as one big anchor surface. The frame is there to keep the wall section from flying off when the wrecking ball impacts.

  9. jobobdiddly November 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Where’s the bomb testing? This is wrecking-ball-proof wallpaper, not bomb-proof wallpaper!

  10. nacoran November 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    How does it hold up when the wall is supporting a load? That rig looks like it uses the reinforced frame to hold the wallpaper in place.

  11. Donna November 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

    OK, this seems really cool in certain applications, but you can see from the (admittedly thrilling) video that they’re being a bit misleading about its application. That stuff in the video isn’t GLUED to the wall, like wallpaper, it’s anchored top and bottom with an anchored steel channel. You’d get the same result if you used a wire mesh installed in this way.

    So is the actual adhesive any good, does it get the same result? Or are they calling it “wallpaper” to make it seem like a newer, cooler innovation than a simple blast net?

    I’m against using plastics except in specific life-saving applications like the medical field. If lining the insides of military bases and embassy buildings with wire mesh – that can be melted down and reused – achieves the same goal, why produce more plastic?

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