Protective armour has developed quite dramatically over the years, with a new player in the game looking to drastically change the future of body armour.
There is little known about composite metal foams (CMFs), but they are starting to show some real promise.
In its basic form, foam metal is made by passing gas through molten metal to form a sort of frothy mixture, which then sets as a very lightweight material whilst still keeping its strength.
Last year, researchers adapted these lightweight materials to stop various forms of radiation with Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University producing a foam metal shield which blocked X-rays, forms of gamma rays and neutron radiation.
This material offers a great and lightweight alternative to the current bulky radiation shielding that is currently being used.
Now, the same team have upped their game and providing protection from something with a bit more kick… An armour-piercing bullet to be precise!
Building on the previous work, Rabiei set about building a high-strength armour in the form of a shield. This shield was built with a boron carbide ceramic strike layer, with the CMF as the bullet kinetic energy absorber layer, with Kevlar panels are backplates.
To test the durability, the team of researchers lined up a shot with a 7.62 x 63mm M2 armour-piercing bullet. This was fired in line with the standard testing procedures of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
Speaking after the test fire, Rabiei said, “We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 mm. To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 mm (1.73 in) indentation in the back of an armour."
In simple terms, the foam does a pretty good job at stopping bullets. The bullet pretty much exploded on impact with the shield, which may well mean that the CMF could be used in body armour in the future!
We’re sure many of you out there would want to get your hands on this armour (just imagine it in your airsoft gear!) but there is no timescale on if/when these materials will start to be used in development.
However, if you are looking to pick up some new gear for your next skirmish, why not head over to our website or pop in and visit us?