Advanced Cerametrics Inc. (ACI) recently announced the receipt of a five-year cooperative agreement contract from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop and scale-up a large-volume continuous fiber process technology to manufacture small-diameter boron carbide fiber for lightweight composites (particularly aluminum metal matrix). Targeted applications include lightweight armor, structural components and consumer goods.
The new fiber capability will leverage ACI’s patented viscous suspension spinning process (VSSP), which can make fiber from any ceramic material and create flexible ceramics that bend rather than break. Boron carbide, the second hardest known material after diamond, has never before been available in fiber form. Boron carbide is a good candidate for reinforcing a variety of lightweight materials due to its high stiffness, good chemical compatibility and excellent high-temperature stability.
Solid ceramic, steel, titanium, aluminum and other exotic materials are currently used in armor systems. These materials can work well but tend to be either heavy or have low strength. Aluminum is an important lightweight armor candidate material due to its easy formability, low cost and existing manufacturing infrastructure. However, aluminum is soft and low strength, so it requires significant toughening and hardening before it can be considered as an armor material.
ACI’s VSSP solution inexpensively produces boron carbide ceramic fiber that can be added to aluminum in wide ranges of volumes to produce a much tougher and stiffer metal matrix composite. With the completion of the development effort, the new boron carbide fiber will be available as an additive for strengthening aluminum products such as engine block components and others in the transportation, aviation, industrial and consumer markets.
For more information, call (800) 261-1208, e-mail Jerry.Ruddle@advancedcerametrics.com
or visit www.advancedcerametrics.com