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Boron carbide ceramic armor.

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posted on Feb, 16 2006 @ 05:47 PM

A Georgia Institute of Technology researcher has developed a process that increases the hardness and improves the ballistic performance of the material used by the U.S. military for body armor. The researcher's start-up company is commercializing the technology.

Boron carbide is the Defense Department's material of choice for body armor. It is the third hardest material on earth, yet it's extremely lightweight. But it has an Achilles heel that piqued the interest of Georgia Tech Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Robert Speyer five years ago.

He knew that the boron carbide powder used to form the armor had a reputation for poor performance during sintering -- a high-temperature process in which particles consolidate, without melting, to eliminate pores between them in the solid state. Poor sintering yields a more porous material that fractures more easily – not a good thing for a soldier depending on it to stop a bullet.

Professor Robert Speyer and his research team have created a new boron carbide formation process. The method yields higher relative densities -- thus better ballistic performance -- than currently available boron carbide armor. Here, Speyer holds a prototype thigh plate.

A new boron carbide formation process allows for the creation of complicated, curved shapes for use in helmets and other body armor. Here, a small-scale prototype helmet is shown.

Pretty impressive, possibly replacing the Kevlar helmet for example that can stop the 7.62 round. Not to mention thats its far stronger than the current armor which the troops wear which is the interceptor armor. They are also looking to add armor for the body, don't know the weight so its all speculation on that part, so don't get your hopes up.

Military applications – body armor, in particular – would be Verco's first target market, and its potential is promising, Speyer noted. The U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., has conducted ballistic testing on a small boron carbide disk provided by Verco. Detailed results are classified, but the Army says they are encouraging. With a $75,000 grant from the center, Verco will produce 6- by 6-inch plates for more comprehensive military ballistic testing within the next few months.

Early next year, the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland will be examining boron carbide materials (including complex shapes) they purchased from Verco. ARL is interested in Verco's potential ability to form complex shapes cost effectively.

Meanwhile, Verco expects to make thigh and shin plate prototypes in early 2006 for a Johnstown, Penn., company called Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC). The plates will be evaluated for use in CTC's Ballistic Gauntlet, a new lower-body armor product for use in military and commercial vehicles in war zones to protect against the pervasive threat of improvised explosive devices. It was the idea of CTC engineer Scott Burk, who recently served in the Persian Gulf for 21 months.

The company's current design calls for the Ballistic Gauntlet's thigh and shin plates to be made from titanium, but its cost has risen recently, and it's hard to form and heavier than boron carbide, Judson and Goldman said.

posted on Feb, 17 2006 @ 05:20 PM
Sounds good

If it is as good as it says it is then i hope some of it makes its way across the atlantic to britain. The way our government seems desperate to kill our troops good, lightweight yet very strong body amour would be very welcome.


posted on Feb, 19 2006 @ 08:53 PM
good to hear there making progress in ultahard lightweight materials. though i hope it isnt to expencive to make it practacle for wide spread deployment such as aerogel.


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