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Armor materials, body armor articles and methods of manufacture

Abstract: An armor material, body armor articles, and methods of manufacturing the armor material are provided. In an embodiment, by way of example only, the armor material includes a first plate, a second plate, and a powder material. The first plate includes a layer comprising a metallic material. The second plate is spaced apart from the first plate and includes a layer comprising a ceramic material. The powder material is disposed between the first and the second plates, and comprises loose powder including at least one of a plurality of ceramic particles and a plurality of metallic particles.


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The Patent Description data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120174750 , Armor materials, body armor articles and methods of manufacture

TECHNICAL FIELD

The inventive subject matter generally relates to armor material, and more particularly relates to projectile-resistant armor material.

BACKGROUND

Protective armor is used for protecting a person, vehicle or device from penetrating threats that may originate from devices used for explosive or ballistic events. Conventionally, the protective armor may be made of sheets of ceramic, metal, or a combination of these materials. Although these materials generally provide excellent protection, they may be improved. Specifically, it is desirable to provide a protective armor that may be more lightweight than conventional protective armor. Additionally, it is desirable to have a protective armor that may protect against various forms of projectile threats, such as solid particles and liquid molten metals. Moreover, it is desirable to have a protective armor made from material that is relatively inexpensive and simple to manufacture. Furthermore, other desirable features and characteristics of the inventive subject matter will become apparent from the subsequent detailed description of the inventive subject matter and the appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and this background of the inventive subject matter.

BRIEF SUMMARY

An armor material, a body armor article, and methods of manufacturing the armor material are provided.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In an embodiment, by way of example only, the armor material includes a first plate, a second plate, and a powder material. The first plate includes a layer comprising a metallic material. The second plate is spaced apart from the first plate and may include a layer comprising a ceramic material. The powder material is disposed between the first and the second plates, and comprises loose powder including at least one of a plurality of ceramic particles and a plurality of metallic particles.

In another embodiment, by way of example only, the body armor article includes a panel. The panel includes an armor material that has a first plate, a second plate, and a powder material. The first plate includes a layer comprising a metallic material. The second plate is spaced apart from the first plate and includes a layer comprising a ceramic material. The powder material is disposed between the first and the second plates, and comprises loose powder including at least one of a plurality of ceramic particles and a plurality of metallic particles.

In still another embodiment, by way of example only, the method includes placing and compacting loose powder material in selected cells of a plurality of cells between a first and a second plate.

The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the inventive subject matter or the application and uses of the inventive subject matter. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any theory presented in the preceding background or the following detailed description.

In an embodiment, the armor material is configured to dissipate and absorb kinetic energy of a projectile by maintaining the projectile intact and/or by adding material to the projectile as it travels through the armor material . Generally, the armor material includes a first plate , a second plate , and a powder material , according to an embodiment. As shown in , the first plate and the second plate are spaced apart from each other, and the powder material is disposed therebetween. In an embodiment, the first and second plates , may be spaced between about 0.2 cm and about 10 cm apart. In another embodiment, a fiber-composite fabric (shown in phantom) may be positioned adjacent to the second plate and may be separate from or adhered thereto. Each of these components will now be described in more detail below.

The first plate may be initially impacted by the projectile and thus, is configured to absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy therefrom. In an embodiment, the first plate may be made of a metallic material, such as aluminum, titanium or steel. In an embodiment, the first plate may have a thickness of between about 0.2 and about cm. In another embodiment, the first plate may be a laminate and may include a first layer and a second layer . Each layer , may have a thickness of between about 0.1 cm and about 5 cm. At least one of the layers , may comprise a first metallic material, such as aluminum, while the other layer , may comprise a second metallic material, such as steel, titanium, or aluminum. The second layer or an additional layer may comprise a ceramic material. Suitable ceramic materials include, but are not limited to, alumina, aluminum nitride, aluminosilicate, boron carbide, boron nitride silica, silicon nitride, silicon carbide, and zirconia. In an embodiment, where the first layer is a soft metal such as aluminum and the second layer is made of a relatively hard metal or ceramic material, the first layer may facilitate projectile deformation (pancaking) on an outer surface of the armor material with minimal shear stress transmitted to the second layer . As a result, the second layer may have an enhanced ability to resist projectile penetration.

The powder material is configured to absorb another portion of kinetic energy from the moving projectile to further reduce the speed at which the projectile is traveling, in an event in which the projectile passes through the first plate . In this regard, the powder material may be disposed between the first plate and the second plate as a loose powder or partially compacted powder. In this way, the powder material becomes compacted when impacted by the projectile. The work required for compaction of the powder thereby absorbs another portion of the impacting projectile's kinetic energy. In an embodiment, the powder material may be disposed between the plates , such that it is a loose powder. Depending on powder particle size and shape, the loose powder may be pre-compacted to have a weight that is about 30% of the weight of the solid from which the powder material is made. In another embodiment, the powder material may be precompacted, and may have a weight that may be about 50% of the weight of its solid form. In still other embodiments, it may be desirable for the powder material to have a compacted density that creates an even higher pressure when the projectile impacts the powder; for such embodiments, the powder material may be pre-compacted to a form a preform having a predetermined density, which may also facilitate packaging of the powder. For example, the powder may be precompacted to about 70% of the weight of the solid form.

The second plate may be configured to absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy remaining in a projectile with which it comes into contact. For example, in an embodiment, the second plate may be made of a ceramic material. Suitable ceramic materials include, but are not limited to, alumina, aluminum nitride, aluminosilicate, boron carbide, boron nitride, silica, silicon nitride, silicon carbide, zirconia, and sand (calcia-magnesia-alumina-silicate). In an embodiment, the second plate may have a thickness of between about 0.1 and about 5 cm. In another embodiment, the second plate may be a laminate and may include a first layer and a second layer . The layers , may or may not have substantially identical thicknesses and may have thicknesses between about 0.1 and about 5 cm. At least one of the layers , may comprise a first metallic material, while the other of the layers , may comprise a second metallic material. In another embodiment, the second layer or an additional layer may comprise may be a metallic material, such as aluminum, titanium or steel. In an embodiment, the second plate may make up a wall of a device or vehicle into which the armor material is being incorporated.

A fiber-composite fabric (shown in phantom) may be positioned adjacent to the second plate and may be separate from or adhered thereto. The fiber-composite fabric may serve to catch projectiles that still have kinetic energy and thereby block the projectile from completely traveling through the armor material . The fiber-composite fabric may be made from aramids, high molecular weight polyethylene fiber, or glass fiber. In an embodiment, the fiber-composite fabric may be Spectra® fiber available through Honeywell International, Inc., Specialty Materials Group, of Morristown, N.J.

As mentioned briefly above, the powder material is disposed between the first plate and the second plate and comprises loose powder. The powder material may include at least one of a plurality of ceramic particles and a plurality of metallic particles. Thus, in some embodiments, the powder material may be a mixture of ceramic particles and metallic particles. In an embodiment, the powder material occupies substantially all of a volume defined between the first and the second plates , . In another embodiment, the powder material may be disposed in structures that are incorporated between the first and the second plates , . is a cross-sectional view of an armor material including such a structure, according to an embodiment. Here, the powder material is contained in a plurality of cells disposed between a first plate and a second plate . Although shown as being disposed in all of the cells , a portion of the cells may not include powder material , in other embodiments. In such case, spaces may exist between the cells that may not include the powder material to thereby maintain portions of the powder material separated from each other. In some embodiments, one or more different types of powder materials may be used, and some cells may be filled with a first type of material, while other cells may be filled with a second type of material. The use of different types of powders may allow selected areas of the armor material to compact at relatively different rates when impacted with a projectile, which may promote shear deformation (energy dissipation) to occur within a penetrating projectile.

The cells may have any one of numerous configurations. In an embodiment, the cells are capsules having a predetermined shape. The capsules may be made of a material capable of deforming when impacted by the projectile to allow the powder material to be compacted. The capsules may be configured to plastically deform to thereby absorb at least a portion of the energy of the projectile. Suitable capsule materials include, but are not limited to glass, ceramic, plastic, aluminum, titanium, copper and steel. The predetermined shape of the capsules may be spherical, ovular, cubic, or hexagonal. In an embodiment, the capsules may have a diameter of between about 2 mm and about 50 mm. In another embodiment, the capsules may include a wall having a thickness of between about 0.1 mm and about 10 mm.

The powder material in this embodiment is disposed in at least a portion of the cells . In an embodiment, the powder material is disposed in substantially all of the cells and fills substantially an entire volume of each cell occupied. In other embodiments, between about 5% and about 95% of the plurality of cells is filled with the powder material . In another embodiment, the powder material is disposed in about 50% of the plurality of cells , and occupies substantially an entire volume of each occupied cell . In any event, the occupied cells may form a pattern. For example, one or more occupied cells may be interposed between two or more empty cells.

The cells shown in are positioned such that each has a wall having a height that extends between the first and second plates , . In an embodiment, the walls may have thickness of between about 0.2 mm and about 10 mm. Such positioning may allow areas of the armor material to be impacted, while minimally affecting areas adjacent to the impacted areas.

In another embodiment, a first portion of the plurality of cells in the first layer includes powder material , while a second portion of the plurality of cells in the first layer is empty. In still another embodiment, the cells of the first layer may have an opening that communicates with an opening formed in the cells of the second layer . The opening may have a width that is slightly smaller (e.g. about 10% smaller) than the size of a particle of the powder material so that flow of the powder material may occur by back extrusion after the powder is nearly fully compacted. The armor material may be further configured such that a first portion of the plurality of cells in the first layer may include the powder material . In an embodiment, the plurality of cells in the second layer communicating with the first portion of the plurality of cells in the first layer may not initially include powder material . Thus, when the armor material is subjected to projectile impact, the powder material can flow from the first layer to the second layer to provide an improved ability to absorb the projectiles' energy and also to withstand repeated impacts. In another embodiment, those cells in the second layer , which may oppose the filled cells of the first layer may be filled with powder material . The layers , , may have cells and cell walls made of material that has a melting point that is greater than a molten projectile and powder material having a melting point that is greater than the molten projectile. As a result, the compacted powder-filled cells form a high-melting point barrier to molten projectiles. Additionally, energy from the impact of the molten projectile may dissipate due to the powder compaction, friction between sliding cells of the layers , , and buckling of the cell walls.

In any case, the powder material , , , may be formed to reduce the kinetic energy of one or more different types of projectiles. In this regard, the powder material , , , may have particular characteristics suitable for reducing kinetic energy when impacted by projectiles. For example, the powder material , , , may include particles having predetermined shapes, such as spherical. The particles may or may not be uniform in shape. In another example, the powder material , , , may have a particular granularity having an irregular atomized shape. The particles may also be relatively flat having a shape characteristic of powder made by mechanical alloying. For instance, in an embodiment, the particles of the powder material , , , may be fine and may have each particle may have a diameter of between about 10 μm and about 300 μm. In another embodiment, the particles may be relatively coarse and have a diameter of between about 0.5 mm and about 5 mm.

The type of powder selected for use may depend on an ability of the powder to obtain maximum absorption of the projectile energy and on the probable type of projectile. In an embodiment, the powder material , , , may be formulated to reduce the kinetic energy of a projectile that may be a solid particle, and the powder material , , , may include a plurality of particles that may deform when impacted by the projectile to thereby weld thereto and increase the size thereof. Suitable particles include, but are not limited to, one or more types of metals or alloys thereof, such as aluminum, iron, steel or copper. In another example, the projectile may comprise liquid metal, and the powder material , , , may include a plurality of particles having a melting point that may be greater than that of the material from which the fully or partially molten projectile may originate. These types of particles may be relatively difficult to compact and may absorb kinetic energy from the molten particle. Suitable particles may include metals such as steels or superalloys or ceramics particles, such as AlO, SiN, SiC, SiO, and the like. Other suitable particles may be those having a melting point that is greater than that of copper (e.g., 1085° C.). In cases in which the armor material , , , may be subjected to multiple types of projectiles, the powder material may be a mixture of metallic particles and ceramic particles. It will be appreciated that a ratio of metallic particles to ceramic particles may be selected based on a predicted likelihood of a particular threat that may be encountered.

To maintain the powder material , , , in loose form, one or more additives may be included. For example, the powder material , , , may include a small amount of an organic additive (e.g., less than about 5% by weight). The organic additive may serve as a contaminant that prevents or inhibits welding of the particles of the powder material , , , . Possible organic contaminates include, but are not limited to, carbon, epoxy, foam or glue. Epoxy or glue may be formulated to adhere to a portion of the particles of the powder material , , , so that the particles remain separate from each other even when subjected to vibration.

In an embodiment, the organic additive, either the foam, glue, or another material, may be formulated to vaporize due to heat energy resulting from compaction of the powder material , , , upon projectile impact. The resulting vapor may contaminate substantially all of the powder particles to thereby prevent the particles from welding together and to improve an ability of the armor material , , , to withstand repeated impact to an area. In another example, the additives may include plastics having a melting point below a temperature of the heat energy resulting from compaction of the powder material upon projectile impact. The plastics may further be formulated to vaporize due to the compaction of the powder material . Suitable low-melting plastics include, but are not limited to polyacrylonitrile butadiene styrene, nylon, nylon6, polypropylene, polystyrene, polytetra fluoro ethylene, polyfloride and polychloride.

The armor materials discussed above may be manufactured using any suitable method. One example of a suitable method is provided in . First, the powder material is formulated, step . The powder material may be formulated according to any of the embodiments described previously, and the formulation may depend on the anticipated type of projectile threat that may be encountered. The powder material is placed between two plates, step . In an embodiment, the plates may be placed adjacent to and spaced apart from one another and may be attached to each other by one or more walls or other attachment means. The powder material in loose powder form may be disposed in selected one of a plurality of cells and compacted to a desired density. In another embodiment, a lattice structure defining a plurality of cells may be included, and the lattice structure is attached to one or both plates, either by brazing, welding, bolts, or other means. The powder material in loose powder form is then placed in selected ones of the cells of the lattice structure and compacted to a desired density. In an embodiment in which the lattice structure is attached only to one plate, another plate is attached to the lattice structure to maintain the powder material in the cells. In still another embodiment, the powder material is placed in a plurality of capsules, and the capsules are disposed between the two plates. Next, the fiber composite fabric is attached to one of the plates, step . In an embodiment, the fiber composite fabric is adhered to the plate using epoxy, or other type of adhesive.

After manufacture, the armor material may be incorporated into any article that may be worn on a person or may be incorporated into a vehicle. For example, is a perspective view of a body armor article . The body armor article may include the armor material , , , described above. In an embodiment, the body armor article may be made entirely of the material , , , . In another embodiment, the body armor article is made of at least two sheets of fabric , that are attached to each other to form a vest (as depicted in ). The two sheets of fabric , may form a pocket therebetween within which one or more panels is disposed. The panels may be made of the material , , , .

Armor materials have now been provided that may be more lightweight than conventional armor materials. Additionally, the armor materials may be used as a shield against solid and/or molten and liquid projectile threats by providing a compactable, alloyable, and collapsible structure. The structure may be used to absorb kinetic energy of a projectile, while either adding material thereto. Moreover, the armor materials may be relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture, compared to conventional materials.

While at least one exemplary embodiment has been presented in the foregoing detailed description of the inventive subject matter, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments are only examples, and are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the inventive subject matter in any way. Rather, the foregoing detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient road map for implementing an exemplary embodiment of the inventive subject matter. It being understood that various changes may be made in the function and arrangement of elements described in an exemplary embodiment without departing from the scope of the inventive subject matter as set forth in the appended claims.