The modification of the physical properties of armor of steel made, or titanium based alloys, is achieved through a new fabrication technique called Liquidmetal. This process produces advanced alloys at lower temperature, offering twice the strengths characteristics of titanium at a processing efficiency of plastics.
Liquidmetal was one of the possible approaches which can be used to compose the basic structural assembly of FCS. Such structure could use integral, composite laminate armor elements and modular add-on composite armor suites, which could be upgraded or modified to counter specific threats. In September 2006 Liquidmetal Technologies received a US$2 million US Navy contract to fund a 24 months development program of Titanium based composite alloys. The new alloy will have very high strength, corrosion resistance and net-shape forming capabilities based on proprietary Liquidmetal alloy technology. Such alloys could have various applications ranging from fasteners to lightweight structures used by both defense and commercial industries. Lockheed Martin – Missile and Fire Control Systems is sub-contractor on this project.
Since those days Liquidmetal Technologies has partnered with other DOD agencies and contractors to enhance defense and tactical product performance. Alloys have now demonstrated 2-3 times the strength of both stainless steel and titanium, yet can be molded like plastic into complex shapes and parts.
Liquidmetal alloys and composites material properties are highly beneficial for numerous Space, Air, Land and Sea applications. The Liquidmetal optimized process, chemistry and atomic structure enables near net-shape processing characteristics making the fabrication of highly sophisticated and complex structures possible while eliminating most secondary machining and processing.
Liquidmetal also have done work with the US Army developing penetrators and armor piercing shells. The Kinetic Energy Penetrator (KEP) rod designed to replace Depleted Uranium (DU) penetrators currently used in armor piercing ammunition, due to its high density and self-sharpening behavior. Ballistic tests conducted by the Army have proven that the Liquidmetal composites exhibit self-sharpening similar to the DU KEP, but environmentally benign KEP rods. The high strength and lightweight attributes of Liquidmetal alloys will enable the development of lighter, smaller and more cost effective ammunition.
The properties of amorphous alloys as developed by Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. make these matrerials suitable for many defense applications. Properties such high yield strength, high Hardness and high strength to weight ratio and superior elastic limit, compared to metallic structures. As a non magnetic material, with high resistance to corrosion and wear and unique acoustical properties, it also has specific applications in naval and underwater applications. Low melting temperature enables net-shape casting and fabrication process similar to plastics.
Liquidmetal Technologies’ amorphous alloys were initially developed from research jointly funded by NASA, the California Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy. The alloy presented a new class of material that is sparking an industrial revolution much in the same way as the invention of steel or plastics.