Design Engineering

New Composite Metal Foam can turn bullets to dust on impact



The CMF was used to create armour that was then tested against a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile.

Researchers at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed a composite metal foam (CMF) that is able to turn an armour-piercing bullet to dust upon impact. The incredibly light and strong material has a wide range of applications, including being used for new types of body and vehicle armour.

This new material has been years in the making, says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NCSU, who has spent her career developing CMFs and exploring their unique and unusual properties. The CMF was used to create armour that was then tested against a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile. The bullet was fired according to the standard testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and was obliterated upon impact.

“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters,” Rabiei says. “To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor.”

Last year, Rabiei showed that CMFs are very effective at shielding X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, opening up the application uses for this new material from space exploration to shipping nuclear waste. According to Rabiei, these metal foams handle fire and heat twice as well as the plain metals they are made of.


CMFs are becoming more popular in ever day use and cane be use in a wide range technologies require a lightweight yet strong material. 


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