CeramTec-ETEC ceramic materials can be used as a protective ceramics anywhere personnel, asset and vehicle protection is required. Here, ALOTEC® alumina and SICADUR® silicon carbide make up the largest share by far.

UN and NATO peacekeeping troops use ceramic-based supplementary armor plating on their vehicles to protect against direct fire, artillery and mortar shrapnel and mine explosions. Vehicles belonging to German peacekeepers operating in conflict zones are also equipped with ceramic-based protection systems. CeramTec-ETEC offers ceramic protective equipment components for body armour systems as well. In composite systems a ceramic plate is an important element that is fixed to a polyamide or glass-reinforced plastic backing using high-performance adhesives. The advantage of such a system is that its basis weight is about half that of armoured steel while still providing individuals with approximately the same level of protection.

Composite Armour Systems with Advanced Ceramics

Ceramic is brittle, which makes it sensitive to shock. So on its own it offers very little ballistic protection. However, in composite systems such as ceramic-polymer composites ceramic has largely replaced the steels previously used for personnel and vehicle protection. One main reason for this is its up to 50% weight advantage. The protection offered by ceramic composite armour is based on a different mechanism.

When a projectile impacts the ceramic surface the tip deforms, which enlarges the cross section of the impact. The projectile micronises when it penetrates the ceramic.

The kinetic energy of the fragments is much lower due to their lower mass and is completely absorbed by elastic-plastic deformation in the backing. These composite systems take advantage of the following advanced ceramics properties:

  • High hardness
  • High tensile strength
  • High Young’s modulus
  • High velocity of sound
  • Low basis weight

As a manufacturer of advanced ceramics CeramTec-ETEC works closely with many systems suppliers to increase the ballistic performance for personnel protection, to reduce weight and improve comfort. Conventional bulletproof vests do not provide complete protection against direct fire; only ceramic-based inserts are able to reliably meet the standards of higher safety classes.

They feature two or more levels of curvature so they fit the body well for increased comfort. Variable production technology makes it possible to produce customised designs. In addition to the monolithic inserts, designs based on the use of smaller ceramic formats (such as 50mm x 50mm) can also be made. Under fire this minimises crack propagation in the overall structure and increases multi-impact capability.

Composite armour systems based on advanced ceramics have proven their efficiency in many vehicle and asset protection scenarios as ‘add-on armour’ or as integrated interior protection. They are used in ground vehicles, helicopters, ships and mobile containers and protect against direct fire, mortar and artillery shrapnel and landmines.

CeramTec-ETEC develops customer-specific protection systems based on the type, calibre, weight and speed of the projectile such as ceramic-polymer composite systems which have largely replaced conventional steel solutions.

ALOTEC® alumina and SICADUR® silicon carbide ceramic from CeramTec-ETEC provide the solution and set standards in terms of maintaining the tightest tolerances and reaching the highest level of ballistic protection.