The newest branch of the U.S. military will use plastic to set itself apart, with the U.S. Department of Defense's Institute of Heraldry picking PVC rather than an embroidered textile for uniform patches.
In an article and video for the online site DoD News from the defense department, Tom Casciaro, chief of the institute's technical and production division, said that the intricate design details on the Space Force patch couldn't be duplicated with traditional textile and embroidery. PVC already had been used in unofficial "morale patches" used by the Space Force, however, prompting the institute to look into a molded patch instead.
The next complication was that no U.S.-based makers of uniform patches used PVC — and the DoD is required to use U.S. suppliers. When some of those suppliers agreed to buy needed equipment, though, the DoD signed on.
Switching to PVC also allowed the department to improve the look of the U.S. flag patch worn on Space Force uniforms. Vinyl has a cleaner look, so the stars look sharper, Casciaro said, and it doesn't require a border like the embroidered patches do.
The institute has produced PVC insignia for 21 Space Force units and it expects to complete it for the remaining 45 units by the end of the fiscal year.