Transparent Ceramics for Ballistic Protection

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Transparent ceramics for ballistic protection.

Ceramic materials are constantly being further developed, and currently show property profiles that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The manufacturing methods, which are increasingly becoming more specialized, and customized raw materials, contribute considerably to this development. Transparent ceramic materials place very high demands on manufacturing technology with regard to purity, homogeneity as well as absence of porosity and defects. However, with special optical parameters combined with the typical parameter properties mentioned above, they offer innovation potential and interesting alternatives to common optical glass. Transparent protective ceramics, for example, enable maximum ballistic protection of civil and military personnel, vehicles and equipment at a minimal weight.

For many years now, Fraunhofer IKTS has been a worldwide leader in the manufacture of transparent ceramics with particularly fine crystalline microstructures and particularly good mechanical parameters. In the manufacture of ceramic backing composites, the protective ceramics are applied to a metallic backing and covered with splinter protection on the outside. The backing for transparent safety windows is made of glass. The particular effect is that, upon impact of a penetrating object, the ceramic material itself breaks but the sharp-edged fragments wear down the object. Only a few millimeters of sintered ceramics provide a stronger protective function than thick armor steel or 10 cm thick bulletproof glass with a surface weight of 150 kg/m2. In comparison, the ceramic material in the composite with a backing reduces the total mass of the protective system by nearly 50 percent – with corresponding advantages regarding moveability, range and the safety of vehicles and passengers.