ME 4133/6133 Mechanical Metallurgy

Integration of Hadfield Steel into Modern Body Armor


Integration of Hadfield Steel into Modern Body Armor



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The increased lethality of recently fielded projectiles mandates a proportional escalation in armor performance. Recent advancements in ceramic technologies have allowed designers to incorporate harder but more brittle materials into hard armor designs to defeat yet more capable penetrating projectiles. Ceramics suffer from the feature of shattering, however, even when impacted by threats below their design parameters. While this shattering mechanism is used effectively to dissipate energy from high-energy rifle projectiles, it is wasted on low-energy projectiles, and can result in easily damaged lifesaving gear, both of which are undesirable in combat. In contrast, steel body armor has been used in warfare for at least the past millennium. Its strengths, weaknesses, and unique characteristics are well-understood. Despite this, the advent of lightweight and hard ceramics has relegated steel armor to use in heavy machinery, ships, and tanks. By analyzing the processing, structure, properties, and performance characteristics of Hadfield/Manganese steel alloys, particularly those pre-hardened to maximum hardness, hybrid ceramic-steel-fiber composite systems may not only maintain or improve upon the performance of modern technical ceramic plates but may also improve upon the handling toughness and service lives of the plates. This analysis offers a Process-Structure-Properties-Performance (PSPP) map of Hadfield steel with respect to raw materials, manufacturing, material properties, and resulting armor performance.


Armor, Body Armor, Hadfield, Mangalloy, Materials, Steel, Ballistics


Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Metallurgy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Integration of Hadfield Steel into Modern Body Armor