When you create an invention built to save lives, testing is without a doubt an important aspect of product design and production. That was no different when it came to creating the modern body armor that we know as the bulletproof vest. Richard Davis revolutionized wars and fighting forever when he took kevlar and turned it into a lightweight vest. Davis’s design turned into the body armor we know today, that police officers and troops wear into combat today. So how did he test such an invention? And how was it invented by a pizza guy from Detroit?
Well first off, just ask yourself what would you invent if you were tired of being shot at when delivering pizza. Most likely you would create something that keeps you safe while doing your job. Body armor has of course been around for as long as war itself exists. Of course, once guns and grenades became the weapon of choice, metal plates no longer made any sense.
During World War II the British Army was using nylon with manganese steel plates, it kind of worked but it weighed heavily at 22lbs. And it was not comfortable at all, still, this was the type of armor used in the Vietnam War also as it was sort of effective. Richard Davis served in the U.S. Marine Corps and when he finished his army career, he opened up a pizzeria.
One night a delivery took him out of his neighborhood and into a back alley, suddenly he was held up by gunpoint and robbed. Weeks later the same order and address came in, this time he took his .22 revolver with him. A gunfight broke out and Davis took a shot into his leg and another even grazed his temple. He left his attackers wounded also, and while he was recovering it appears they burnt his pizzeria down. He only had $70 to his name when he came out of the hospital.
Kevlar a super-strong synthetic fabric had just been invented and Davis was able to get his hands on some. He turned it into a vest and worked on them all day, at night he would go out and attempt to sell them to police officers. He called it the Second Chance vest, but he was finding it difficult to sell the product.
So he staged the ultimate marketing scheme and gathered up the police for a demonstration. He then proceeded to shoot himself in the chest, despite the fest never having been tested at all. It worked like a charm, sure it hurt, but Davis was fine. His pitch was so well down that the police immediately proceeded to order a whole batch. And variations of his design are still used today.