Often called soft trauma plates, these are flexible plates that typically do little to reduce trauma. This starts hydration reactions, which result in long, interlocking crystals forming around the aggregates. Shanefield, Kluwer Publishers [Boston], Such devices convert electricity to mechanical motions and back, making a stable oscillator. Some advanced tactical and demolition vests accommodate a multitude of trauma plates.
Ceramic plates, typically composed of boron carbide or near variants, are very popular in military applications. These materials offer very high ballistic value. However, they do not do very well at dispersing blunt trauma. The advantages of ceramic armor is that they are not only lighter than metals, but much harder as well, which enables them to deform most penetrators. The deeper a projectile burrows into a ceramic plate, the more it will deform from grinding against the comminuted plate material.
But compared to steel or titanium, ceramic plates have inferior multi-hit resistance due to their brittle nature. They are particularly vulnerable to rounds which hit in a tight grouping, as these can exploit stress concentration and shatter the plate.
Most metal trauma plates are made primarily of steel or titanium. Aluminium and various alloys also exist. Metal trauma plates are typically considered the best for reducing blunt trauma, thanks to the conductive traits of the material. There are stories of bullets sliding or bouncing off of metal trauma plates and injuring the wearer e.
Often called soft trauma plates, these are flexible plates that typically do little to reduce trauma. They are typically composed of layers of aramid fabrics, similar to, if not the same as the material found in the vest. They may also include thin sheets of metal or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene UHMWPE to add stiffness and some trauma protection.
With these, there is the cost of less trauma reduction and the improbable but possible risk of fracture. The layered sheets that exist in each plate, are sometimes separated by high density foam, which provides some compression to aid in dissipating the kinetic energy of an impact.
Though this is more often found in cheap polycarbonate plates that provide some trauma reduction, but no ballistic value. The material, and padding made from it, derives its superior energy adsorbing behavior from the unique physical properties of the viscoelastic compound.
The bulk of the compound is composed of a high molecular weight, highly viscous, highly elastic polymer fluid. The fluid is then compounded with rheological modifiers and other fillers to control the physical and rheological properties of the finished padding compound. Zoombang is one example of a polymer compound trauma pad ZB-7 Trauma Pad. Proposed to be the future for both trauma plates and anti-ballistic fabrics, carbon nanotube and nanocomposite materials offer a new strength to weight ratio that exceeds current materials.
For further information on these materials as applied to ballistics, please visit the section on ballistic vest nanomaterials in ballistics.
Though nanotechnology processes are used to enhance modern ballistic materials, very few "nanomaterials" are currently available in commercial products. Under some conditions, such as extremely low temperature, some ceramics exhibit superconductivity. The exact reason for this is not known, but there are two major families of superconducting ceramics. Piezoelectricity , a link between electrical and mechanical response, is exhibited by a large number of ceramic materials, including the quartz used to measure time in watches and other electronics.
Such devices convert electricity to mechanical motions and back, making a stable oscillator. The piezoelectric effect is generally stronger in materials that also exhibit pyroelectricity , and all pyroelectric materials are also piezoelectric. Such materials are used in motion sensors , where the tiny rise in temperature from a warm body entering the room is enough to produce a measurable voltage in the crystal. In turn, pyroelectricity is seen most strongly in materials which also display the ferroelectric effect , in which a stable electric dipole can be oriented or reversed by applying an electrostatic field.
Pyroelectricity is also a necessary consequence of ferroelectricity. This can be used to store information in ferroelectric capacitors , elements of ferroelectric RAM.
The most common such materials are lead zirconate titanate and barium titanate. Aside from the uses mentioned above, their strong piezoelectric response is exploited in the design of high-frequency loudspeakers , transducers for sonar , and actuators for atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopes.
Increases in temperature can cause grain boundaries to suddenly become insulating in some semiconducting ceramic materials, mostly mixtures of heavy metal titanates. The critical transition temperature can be adjusted over a wide range by variations in chemistry. In such materials, current will pass through the material until joule heating brings it to the transition temperature, at which point the circuit will be broken and current flow will cease.
Such ceramics are used as self-controlled heating elements in, for example, the rear-window defrost circuits of automobiles. At the transition temperature, the material's dielectric response becomes theoretically infinite.
While a lack of temperature control would rule out any practical use of the material near its critical temperature, the dielectric effect remains exceptionally strong even at much higher temperatures. Titanates with critical temperatures far below room temperature have become synonymous with "ceramic" in the context of ceramic capacitors for just this reason.
Non-crystalline ceramics, being glasses, tend to be formed from melts. The glass is shaped when either fully molten, by casting, or when in a state of toffee-like viscosity, by methods such as blowing to a mold.
If later heat-treatments cause this class to become partly crystalline, the resulting material is known as a glass-ceramic. Crystalline ceramic materials are not amenable to a great range of processing. Methods for dealing with them tend to fall into one of two categories — either make the ceramic in the desired shape, by reaction in situ, or by "forming" powders into the desired shape, and then sintering to form a solid body.
Ceramic forming techniques include shaping by hand sometimes including a rotation process called "throwing" , slip casting , tape casting used for making very thin ceramic capacitors, etc. See also Ceramic forming techniques. Details of these processes are described in the two books listed below. A few methods use a hybrid between the two approaches. The most common use of this method is in the production of cement and concrete. Here, the dehydrated powders are mixed with water.
This starts hydration reactions, which result in long, interlocking crystals forming around the aggregates. Over time, these result in a solid ceramic. The biggest problem with this method is that most reactions are so fast that good mixing is not possible, which tends to prevent large-scale construction. However, small-scale systems can be made by deposition techniques, where the various materials are introduced above a substrate, and react and form the ceramic on the substrate.
This borrows techniques from the semiconductor industry, such as chemical vapour deposition , and is very useful for coatings. The principles of sintering -based methods is simple. Once a roughly held together object called a "green body" is made, it is baked in a kiln, where diffusion processes cause the green body to shrink. The pores in the object close up, resulting in a denser, stronger product.
The firing is done at a temperature below the melting point of the ceramic. There is virtually always some porosity left, but the real advantage of this method is that the green body can be produced in any way imaginable, and still be sintered.
This makes it a very versatile route. There are thousands of possible refinements of this process. Some of the most common involve pressing the green body to give the densification a head start and reduce the sintering time needed. Sometimes organic lubricants are added during pressing to increase densification.
It is not uncommon to combine these, and add binders and lubricants to a powder, then press. The formulation of these organic chemical additives is an art in itself.
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