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Title: New Ballistic Armor?
Description: I need some advice.


Caninope - April 18, 2012 12:56 AM (GMT)
OK guys, I'm kind of making my first little baby steps into military design here, so can I get some advice on an idea for a ballistic vest I have?

The soft armor portion of it would be carbon nanotubes (treated by polyvinyl alcohol), with a dilatant fluid spread throughout the weaving. For those of you who don't know, a dilatant fluid is a non-Newtonian fluid that becomes harder as it receives more shock. I'm also toying with the idea of adding graphene to the carbon nanotubes, to toughen the fibers (as Australian scientists did recently).

The hard armor portion would be laminated titanium diboride, which should provide even more protection than RL inserts, at a lower weight (because of a lower density). Once again, I'm toying with the idea of adding graphene to the laminate (this time, in the form of graphene paper).

Are these crazy ideas, brilliant ideas, or meh?

Laissez-Faire - April 18, 2012 01:04 AM (GMT)
The thing i'd consider would be manufacturing process- If you truly want it to be a successful armor, it's logistics should match the production of the vehicles and be practical both in expense and in capacity for the purposes of the vehicles.

These armors probably could be successful under the right conditions. It really just depends how you plan to use them with your ballistic vests.

Caninope - April 18, 2012 01:09 AM (GMT)
Vehicles? Vests? You mentioned both, but I'm only making armor for a vest.

Vault X - April 18, 2012 01:41 AM (GMT)
These are not brilliant ideas, because they're floated around by popular media all the time.
These are not crazy ideas either, because they're floated around by popular media all the time.
These are rather obvious and largely cliched ideas, because armor is the first thing coming to anyone's mind upon hearing about superstrong materials, and popular media suggests using them that way all the time.


Now to the technical reasons it doesn't work as intended.

Currently produced carbon nanotubes can't be woven into yarns and fabrics - ones we produce in bulk are only microns long. The longest ones ever produced are only a few millimeters, and we don't know how they'll behave in a yarn because we can't even produce enough to test them. While strong in axial tension, carbon nanotubes are exceptionally anisotropic and may lose their strength even with minor transverse loads.

The same applies to graphene, the only tests done are on microscopic scale, we don't have macroscopic versions to test, and while CNT are at least mostly stable, graphene adds the issue of maintaining macroscopic stability rather than reverting to graphite.

For how short fiber yarns generally behave macroscopically, take a look at wool; and it actually consists of very strong hair material.
For the other portion, dilatant fluids, while they do work as advertised, one thing not to be overlooked is that they are not high-strength materials. Even at its hardest, it's still too weak a material to work as a good matrix.

Titanium diboride is actually commercially manufactured and commercially used in armor. It's denser than state of the art armor ceramics such as boron carbide, however, so it does not take the lead in performance per unit weight, but there are light vehicle armor schemes that utilize it. Currently the highest-performing ballistic inserts are made out of boron carbide backed by bonded polyethylene.

Caninope - April 18, 2012 02:23 AM (GMT)
Currently produced carbon nanotubes can't be woven into yarns and fabrics - ones we produce in bulk are only microns long. The longest ones ever produced are only a few millimeters, and we don't know how they'll behave in a yarn because we can't even produce enough to test them.
Wrong and wrong.

While strong in axial tension, carbon nanotubes are exceptionally anisotropic and may lose their strength even with minor transverse loads.
Could you give me a source for this? It'd be great if I could read up on this more. What I saw seemed to suggest they were anisotropic with regards to optics and electromagnetivity, not in a fiber.

The same applies to graphene, the only tests done are on microscopic scale, we don't have macroscopic versions to test,
Also wrong. We've created graphene paper.. We can "upscale it easily.". We've spun graphene oxide into meter long fibers, and tied that into knots. We've created some very strong fibers with graphene oxide and CNTs.

and while CNT are at least mostly stable, graphene adds the issue of maintaining macroscopic stability rather than reverting to graphite.
I'd actually be using graphene oxide for the fibers.

For the other portion, dilatant fluids, while they do work as advertised, one thing not to be overlooked is that they are not high-strength materials. Even at its hardest, it's still too weak a material to work as a good matrix.
Recent tests have been encouraging.

Titanium diboride is actually commercially manufactured and commercially used in armor. It's denser than state of the art armor ceramics such as boron carbide, however, so it does not take the lead in performance per unit weight, but there are light vehicle armor schemes that utilize it. Currently the highest-performing ballistic inserts are made out of boron carbide backed by bonded polyethylene.
That is a fair enough point. Titanium diboride is more dense than boron carbide (forgot that one- I was comparing it to Aluminum Oxide). Titanium diboride performs slightly better on the Moh's scale, but it it's slightly denser. I'll have to mull over this one.

EDIT: I also have my IC nation a few years ahead of the West, when it comes to military technologies. With all the progress we've seen, I think it's possible that these technologies start rearing their heads, commercially, in a few years.

Laissez-Faire - April 18, 2012 02:38 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Caninope @ Apr 18 2012, 02:09 AM)
Vehicles? Vests? You mentioned both, but I'm only making armor for a vest.

Vehicles were a reference. For instance, a vehicle needs practical/logistical armor. I image the concept you are going for here isn't all that different with ballistics vests.

Caninope - April 18, 2012 02:39 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Laissez-Faire @ Apr 18 2012, 03:38 AM)
QUOTE (Caninope @ Apr 18 2012, 02:09 AM)
Vehicles? Vests? You mentioned both, but I'm only making armor for a vest.

Vehicles were a reference. For instance, a vehicle needs practical/logistical armor. I image the concept you are going for here isn't all that different with ballistics vests.

Ah, OK. I just didn't realize where you were going with that.

Vault X - April 18, 2012 03:16 AM (GMT)
You're obviously convinced your idea will work and work as you intend, if you're willing to present that as proof. So there's not much point debating.

Although, for the sake of nitpicking, let me amend my statements a little bit: the only samples and the only tests with highly impressive results that we have are on microscopic or very small scale. Whenever these nano-wonders are made into something macroscopic, it falls very far short of their microscopic records.


QUOTE
EDIT: I also have my IC nation a few years ahead of the West, when it comes to military technologies.

That's a few decades, not a few years. Anything that will be actually mass-produced in a few years already has direct prototypes. The term for this is PMT. In PMT, the standards of feasibility and proof are much lower than in MT and nanostuff is accepted as a given.

Caninope - April 18, 2012 03:28 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Vault X @ Apr 18 2012, 04:16 AM)
You're obviously convinced your idea will work and work as you intend, if you're willing to present that as proof. So there's not much point debating.

Although, for the sake of nitpicking, let me amend my statements a little bit: the only samples and the only tests with highly impressive results that we have are on microscopic or very small scale. Whenever these nano-wonders are made into something macroscopic, it falls very far short of their microscopic records.


QUOTE
EDIT: I also have my IC nation a few years ahead of the West, when it comes to military technologies.

That's a few decades, not a few years. Anything that will be actually mass-produced in a few years already has direct prototypes. The term for this is PMT. In PMT, the standards of feasibility and proof are much lower than in MT and nanostuff is accepted as a given.

I'm familiar with PMT. I'm early PMT. I don't see myself as decades ahead, perhaps a decade, decade and a half at most. Anyways, one of the links I gave to you, seemed to suggest that carbon nanotube coated fibers (not quite the same thing, I know) will be in production by next year.

But, disregarding the time period itself, is there anything with the few details I have now (yes, I know it's sparse, I'm still in the planning stage)? You pointed out a good point with the boron carbide; is there anything like that? Anything I should change to make it more effective?

Andorianus\Dystopianus - April 18, 2012 12:42 PM (GMT)
Welcome to NSD.

This stuff is indeed PMT, and can not be mixed with MT as such. It is pretty much decades ahead. It's difficult to make estimations about it tbh.

Fox News never is a good source for anything really; take what they say with a grain of salt. Saying Fox News is a news network is like saying MacDonalds is a dining restaurant.

Liquid armour is very much still under development. As of April 2010, critical parts of the system were still in TRL-1 phase; including the impact protection part which as V10 pointed out is the critical part. Many other components also still low on the scale. The shear thickening fluids (which are discussed in the media so often) are doing fairly well with a TRL-8 rating, but that's just one part of the system.

FYI, TRL is Technology Readiness Level. I usally assume something TRL-7 or over is almost certainly MT, although exceptions can be made.

Vault X - April 18, 2012 02:20 PM (GMT)
Nanoarmors are not quite early PMT, more like mid-PMT, although if you do it semi-realistically they are.
There's a lot more speculation in this than I like to work with, and there are people more familiar with NS nanocraze that could comment on this.

On STF: No particular issues. However they don't end up reducing weight. What they achieve is reduced deformation with more weight, or same deformation with less thickness and same weight.
Nanotubes may need STF more due to thinner layers, or may need it less due to inherent stiffness. It's difficult to tell now.


What I can do is give you a general way to estimate armor protection. Specifically, mechanical protection per unit thickness, as a dimensionless number, is approximately proportional to the cubic root of material properties.
"Properties" is a dimensionless number that represents, mostly, material strength, with other factors like elongation factored in. There's no clear formula, but something like (compressive+tensile)*(1+elongation) is about it for materials with moderate-high elongation. Compressive~=0 for fibers, tensile~=0 for ceramics.

For your purposes it's simplified to thickness~strength^(-1/3). E.g. if you have a material that is 2 times stronger, the required vest is 1.25 times thinner, 8 times stronger, 1/2 the thickness.

Trinary - April 18, 2012 05:28 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
I usally assume something TRL-7 or over is almost certainly MT, although exceptions can be made.

Yea about there for me to, though If the product in question is more of a rehashed package of proven technologies I would not bitch if it is TRL-6. (for example DARPA one shot)

Caninope - April 18, 2012 08:57 PM (GMT)
I guess I never expected this stuff to be marketed as MT (more so as early MT).

Do you guys have any particular suggestions to indeed reduce the weight without compromising the strength?

Caninope - April 18, 2012 10:49 PM (GMT)
Question: Would there instead be better ceramics for the job? Could I use boron nitride or titanium nitride, instead of boron carbide or titanium diboride?




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