art of hard armor

Altena Engineering, a prominent German company specializing in ballistic solutions, opens the door to the complex world of hard armor manufacturing. Nick Meyer, Director of Technology, an experienced technology transfer specialist, shares important insights in an exclusive feature on

Creating Protection: A Step-by-Step Guide to Hard Armor Manufacturing

In its basic form, composite hard armor plates, which protect against armor-piercing bullets, consist of two main components bonded together: a ballistic high-strength ceramic and a multilayer laminate of high-performance fibers.

Ceramic cracks when subjected to impact Upon impact, the projectile decelerates and the remainder is absorbed by the laminated fiber lining.

Raw materials: ceramics, fibers

Ceramics come in two forms: ceramic tiles and monolithic ceramics.

ceramic tiles They are small ceramic pieces assembled into a mosaic to achieve a desired pattern. The advantage of this system is that only one tile and some neighboring tiles are affected upon impact, thus limiting the variance. This performs better in multi-hit scenarios. However, gaps between tiles can be a weak point in this design. Also, most tiling solutions are single curves, as multi-curve versions using this system are difficult. That may be one reason why this design is in low demand in Western Europe.

monolithic ceramics Constructed of a single piece of ceramic capable of both single and multiple curvatures. Multi-curve version provides a better fit to the body. The disadvantages of this system are projectile Impacts can cause cracks to occur over larger areas of the surface, and multiple hit scenarios become difficult to manage without further treatment of the front surface.

The ceramic backing consists of multiple prepreg layers. Prepreg is a laminated composite material of fiber sheets impregnated with resin that is not fully cured. To bond prepreg sheets, a process of applying heat and pressure must be performed. Fibers commonly used for this are aramid or UHMWPE. The sheets are cut in the same pattern as the bulletproof plates and stacked together. The number of seats you use depends on the level of performance you require.

© Althena Engineering
© Althena Engineering

Choosing the right process

The joining of the two main components still needs to be Critical bonding processes determine the effectiveness of hard armor plates, the choices you make in this step are very important. He has two approaches to finishing hard armor plates: a one-step process and a two-step process.

The one-step process involves stacking the backing and ceramic in an autoclave or vacuum oven. The two-step process consists of first pressing the backing alone in a hydraulic press using a heat-pressure cycle, then manually applying the ceramic tiles using an adhesive that cures at room temperature.

Choosing the right adhesive is important to ensure the longevity of your plates. In order for the adhesive to perform its role properly, the product must be repeatedly cleaned at all stages of the process, and the environment in which the product is manufactured must be carefully controlled. Careful attention to these details ensures that no gaps remain between the ceramic and the backing.

Final touch: protective cover

The finished plate is fitted with a protective cover, an important element for durability and performance.

Traditionally, covers have been made of sticky Cordura or other water-repellent nylon fabrics. However, polyurea coatings, where PU is simply sprayed or applied over the entire product, are becoming increasingly popular.

Altena Engineering emphasizes the importance of making thoughtful decisions at every step of the production process. From material selection to manufacturing processes, the evolution of hard armor requires a nuanced understanding of requirements and environments to ensure resilient and effective protection is created.

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