Finns develop bullet-proof material

Sunday, 29 February, 2004

The Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) has developed a revolutionary material that can be used for bullet-proof, anti-theft and shrapnel protection applications. The patent rights were sold to Exote Oy, a Finnish company that forecasts a multi-million dollar market for the new material. The company is planning to build a new production facility in southern Finland. The material will most likely be used to produce completely new types of structures for civil and military vehicles.

The new compound consists of ceramic and metal and is as hard as ceramic and tungsten carbide, much tougher than ceramic and easy to mould into the desired shape. The material is highly resistant to repeated impact and heavy blows and penetrative forces. At the same time, it has high resistance to elevated temperatures. The aluminium oxides and other ceramic materials currently used in armour are brittle and therefore unable to absorb multiple impacts.

The idea came as a spin-off of a project to develop new wear and corrosion-resistant materials and coating techniques for industrial machinery. The material was tested as part of a project funded by the Scientific Defence Council, the Defence Forces Research Centre, the Police Technology Centre, several private companies, and the National Development Agency TEKES. The use of the material for bullet-proofing applications was patented by VTT.

Currently the material and related manufacturing techniques are being honed for large-scale production. Tests are also being carried out to explore other industrial applications. The market is now ready for this new material developed by VTT, and results obtained from tests performed by defence materials manufacturers in Australia, Europe and the USA have been encouraging.

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