By Emily Lehmann
The word ‘armour’ dates back to the Middle Ages, and certainly, protective uniforms have come a long way since then.
A wide variety of materials and techniques have been used over time to develop better and stronger armour such as leather, chainmail and full-plated suits.
Modern combat armour uses a combination of extremely hard ceramic plates inserted into garments (such as vests) made of high technology protective fabrics such as Kevlar.
While providing protection against weapons during combat, most hard armours commonly share three other traits; they are heavy, stiff and hot to wear. That equates to some seriously uncomfortable gear.
Hard armour production methods have been limited by two factors:
• The ability to shape the ceramic plates to fit the human body
• Finding a balance between the thickness of the ceramic plate, and the effectiveness of the protection it provides.
That is, until our scientists used their expert understanding of ceramic material structure and properties to come up with a better performing solution.
In collaboration with Victorian manufacturer Australian Defence Apparel and the Defence Materials Technology Centre, CSIRO has developed a new armour made of ceramic material that is lighter and can be manufactured in complex shapes to fit to the curves of the human body in order to improve comfort, wearability and protection in the field.
For the first time, the technology provides Australia with a world-competitive armour manufacturing capability, and the foundation of a new export industry in protective clothing for defence and civilian police forces.
The armour is being used by Australian defence forces deployed overseas, and its superior qualities over existing armours have stimulated commercial interest from international defence organisations.
This project was supported by the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM)
Read more about our protective materials for defence.