Lightweight – Performance – Flexibility
Modern military equipment must be highly exible, available for rapid response and provide maximum safety. Among many factors crucial to success, inno vative materials play an important role in providing the required performance pro le. Ballistic protection is one such area. “Boron Carbide” – technically known as nonoxide ceramics – enable highest protection levels at lowest possible weight.
Black ceramics for ballistic protection
In the key properties essential for ballistic protection, such as hardness, Young’s modulus, sonic velocity and compressive strength, materials from 3M Technical Ceramics, like 3M™ Sintered Silicon Carbide and 3M™ Boron Carbide, are superior to all of the alternative materials. And as this all comes at lower weight compared to alumina and armor steel, the goal is clear: provide the required ballistic protection at the lowest possible weight.
In this application 3M™ (formerly ESK) black ceramic plates are typically combined with a highend composite backing structure.
Polyethylenebased bers such as Dyneema® or Spectra Shield®, and aramid bers such as Twaron® and Kevlar®, are used in combination with a variety of resins, chosen specically to meet the application requirements.
3M Technical Ceramics offers hot pressed boron carbide plates in different designs and sizes. For example a double curved plate in sizes S through XL, a multi curved plate and a single curved side plate.
The thickness of the plates can be adjusted to meet the specic threat requirements.
Areal densities of boron carbide composite systems designed for protection according to German SK4 (7.62 x 51 AP) start at 30 kg/m2. This is lower in weight than silicon carbide based systems (typically 36 kg/m2) and signi cantly lower than alumina based systems (typically 42 kg/m2).
It allows weight savings of up to 1 kg for a typical torso plate. Signifcant weight savings can also be achieved for plates o ering protection levels of NIJ 0101.06 Level IV and Level IV+ (7.62 x 63 M2 AP). Boron carbide based systems o er highest protection combined with unique weight savings compared to conventional systems, resulting in improved mobility, reduced fatigue and increased comfort for the soldier.
Optimal ballistic protection of vehicles is the key to safe and successful deployment. Protection is required against a variety of threats in today’s theatres, ranging from small arms re and long range medium and large caliber rounds all the way to mines, roadside bombs, IEDs, EFPs and RPGs. In addition to established materials like metals and composites, ceramic materials play an important role in ballistic protection of vehicles.
Through shape design and the use of strategic metal plates, underbelly protection against blast has been increased on many vehicles. Some of the weight introduced by these improvements can be recouped by using lightweight ceramic composite structures providing protection against ballistic rounds and fragmentation in other parts of the vehicles. With the ceramic materials leading the way in offering protection at the lowest areal densities, exceptional protection can be provided within the overall weight budget.
A variety of standard ceramic components such as cylinders/pellets, hexagons and plates/tiles, are used to build armor panels for vehicles. With weight becoming increasingly more important, 3M™ Sintered Silicon Carbide components are the perfect solution for this application. The achievable reduction in weight has an immediate positive impact on airlift capability, payload, oatability, fuel consumption, cruising range, lifecycle cost and overall throughlife reliability of the vehicle.
When it comes to ballistic protection of aircrafts, it’s all about weight. Since the 1960s the plant in Kempten has supplied hot pressed boron carbide (B4C) tiles for helicopter seats. Over time the geometries have become more complex, and as a result, precut ceramic panels in 3M™ Boron Carbide and 3M™ Sintered Silicon Carbide are playing a more and more important role in today’s designs. Composite armor systems based on these materials o er highest protection in combination with significant reduction in weight.