Saturday, February 5, 2011

What is it?

So I realize that I jumped right into this blog without actually explaining what ceramic armor is, for this I apologize.  When you first hear the word you ceramics you most likely think of things like pottery and dinnerware.  While this is their major purpose ceramics have many features that make them ideal in armor and more advantageous than traditional steel armor.

First lets discuss what and how ceramic armor is made from.  Ceramics are a material consisting of a metal and nonmetal.  Common materials used in ceramic armor include aluminum oxide, boron carbide, and silicon carbide.  These materials are first present as a powder.  To turn them into armor the powders are placed into specially designed molds.  The need for these special molds is obvious if you have ever tried to reshape a dinner plate, it usually doesn't end up very well for the plate.  Once the molds have been loaded they are placed in a hot press.  This hot press applies both heat and pressure to the powder causing the powders to fuse together and become dense.  Once the pieces are ready protective layer is applied on the outside of the plate.  This layer is to ensure pieces of that may have broken by the impact of a bullet do not fly out harming the wear or those around him.  Take a look at this video found in the new Batman movie to get a picture of this process.

Now the reason ceramic armor can stop a bullet is due to its high compress strength and fracture toughness.  All this means is a large force must be exerted on the material before it will break.  Obviously a bullet impact is a large force as seen earlier in the video when a sniper shot at the soldier knocked him to the ground.  Needless to say, if that soldier was not wearing ceramic body armor he likely would have died.

If anything I said was confusing or if you just want to say something please feel free to comment.


  1. This was very helpful in learning about the basics of ceramics and its uses. What is it about the ceramics that makes the Batman suit so flexible?

  2. This is a nice explanation, not to jargon-y, not to deficit-oriented. Thanks for the explanation.

    Would also be good to learn more about the most common uses for ceramics (other than coffee mugs and armor).