Security Materials Technologies program

Armoured vehicles (AV) and personal protective equipment (PPE) are key segments of Canada's globally competitive defence and security industry. Increasing and evolving threats and demanding operational environments mean that new, high-performance protective materials are required in modern AV and PPE systems.

A joint program between the NRC and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), the Security Materials Technologies (SMT) research program enables the development and transfer of next-generation protective materials and assemblies to Canadian industry and end users. The program harnesses Canada's best materials and defence scientists, engineers, facilities and equipment to work collaboratively with partners on developing, commercializing and fielding superior protective solutions that are up to 25% lighter, 10% less costly, multifunctional, adaptive and more comfortable and durable.

The unique capabilities offered through the SMT program provide Canadian AV and PPE companies and their supply chains access to world-leading expertise in the design, prototyping and testing of advanced protection systems that will position Canadian companies as international market leaders for advanced security and armoured products.

Collaborate with us

Whether you are already in the vehicle armour or personal protective equipment supply chain or specialize in cutting-edge materials with potential applications in protection, collaborating with us on strategic research projects will help de-risk your innovative ideas, reduce your start-up costs, open new market opportunities and accelerate your commercial development timelines.

Collaboration opportunities

NRC collaborators will help to develop and deploy validated high-performance, cost-effective protection systems with mass efficiencies at least 25% better than current systems.

Opportunities exist for:

  • Manufacturers of AV and PPE interested in exploiting advanced materials technologies to create globally competitive armour products.
  • Small and medium sized enterprises in defence and security interested in participating in networks and consortia to identify and develop new materials technologies for AV and PPE.
  • Other government departments who want to enhance relationships with industry, stimulate industry innovation and increase industry receptor capacity.
  • Any organization wishing to gain access to Canada's protective material innovation ecosystem through the Canadian Security Materials Technologies Roadmap.

Specific technologies and capabilities of interest include:

Advanced ceramics - Advanced armour ceramics are superior to most materials in terms of hardness, density, and stability in harsh environments. The NRC's hot press, capable of producing 4" x 4" ceramic tiles at temperatures up to 2000°C, 50 tons of pressure and a vacuum 10-6 millibar enables next generation research in light weighting and improvements multi-hit capabilities and fracture toughness for these important materials.

Advanced Coatings – Various thin film coatings are applied to polymers used in transparent armour to improve abrasion resistance, hydrophobicity (to eliminate fogging), and ultra-violet protection, however they are often subject to premature degradation. Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are an excellent candidate as a new additive as they have excellent mechanical properties, a high aspect ratio, and are optically transparent in the visible spectrum. The NRC's expertise in manufacturing and processing nanotube materials, combined with its experience in incorporating nanomaterials into polymer matrices for various applications, uniquely positions the organization to develop BNNT coatings.

Nanomaterials - Future protective materials will feature nanoparticles in composites and coatings for greater ballistic performance and a range of new features and capabilities such as self-healing and adaptive stealth, which are not possible with conventional materials. Since 1999, the NRC has been developing solutions for the synthesis of carbon and boron nitride nanotubes and their assemblies, as well as for the integration of nanomaterials into polymers, metals, ceramics, glass and ink.

Modelling and simulation - Modelling and simulation is widely used in engineering applications to reduce the number of experimental tests and costs necessary to develop and optimize engineering systems. Our researchers have been simulating materials under shock and ballistic load conditions, in parallel with validation experiments, to help make this powerful tool available to Canadian industry.

Characterization and testing – The ability of computer models to predict the physical behaviour of materials under ballistic, blast and other dynamic loads is highly dependent on material properties and equations of states that are inputted to the models. The NRC's characterization laboratories generate important material property data for use in numerical simulations.

Polymers and adhesives - Polymers in various forms (thermosets, thermoplastics and elastomers) have a wide range of armour applications as bulk materials (e.g., transparent armour and foam materials), adhesives and matrices in composites. NRC researchers have developed a range of techniques for polymer formulating, blending and forming, including nano-enhancement, to improve performance. Our researchers have also developed expertise in bonding chemistry for multiple substrate-adhesive combinations, failure mechanisms of joined surfaces, bond characterisation and the development of surface treatment techniques that enhance bonding performance.

Advanced manufacturing techniques – Additive manufacturing techniques such as cold spray and high velocity oxygen fluid (HVOF) as well as other manufacturing processes like hot isostatic pressing enable exotic blends and compositions of materials that would be impossible to produce using other methods. The NRC has developed techniques and capabilities in each of these processes relevant to the requirements of security materials and has successfully transferred techniques from other sectors such as direct long fibre thermoplastics to create compelling new materials for the protective materials market.

Non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and life-cycle management - Prognostics and diagnostics of armour systems has been identified as an area where significant cost savings can be realized by shifting from time-based to a condition-based maintenance. We are developing capable, fast, wide-area, and single-side access techniques for NDE that make in-field inspection and evaluation of armour and condition-based maintenance possible. Multiple, specialized NDE methods have also been developed to support advanced armour design and development. Composite materials – Composite materials offer a variety of pathways to marry ballistic, fire, impact or overpressure resistance with other desired properties such as increased durability and increased stiffness. We have developed a range of composite solutions that range from market ready to next generation that offer improvements in cost, durability and protection.

Collaborator benefits

The Security Materials Technologies program provides Canadian AV and PPE companies access to world-class expertise in advanced protection system design, prototype production and testing, including advanced nano-engineered and hybrid materials processing and performance validation.

Our collaborators realize the following benefits:

  • Direct access to Canada's best material scientists, engineers, facilities and equipment dedicated to the development of next-generation armour solutions;
  • Competitive rates, customized service options and measures to ensure partner confidentiality and data integrity;
  • Opportunities for collaboration with national and international industry players and end users from the defence and first responder communities; and
  • Access to strong relationships with key industry and university allies through the Canadian Security Materials Technology Roadmap.
Technical and advisory services

We offer key technical services and expertise on a one-on-one basis or as part of a multi-party collaboration. We provide guidance and assistance in proven approaches for technology development and validation. Our multi-disciplinary technical capabilities include:

Research facilities

Collaborators and clients have access to an extensive range of facilities, instrumentation and equipment. Our facilities include:

  • Nanotube production facilities (carbon nanotubes, boron nitride nanotubes) offering fabrication and prototyping for applications of advanced nano-materials
  • Process development and manufacturing facilities for development of prototypes and pilot-scale production
  • An extensive suite of materials and structures modelling and performance testing capabilities from nano-scale to full-scale structures, including advanced capabilities in non-destructive testing

Contact us

For more information and to find out how we can support your business needs, please contact:

Marc McArthur, Business Development Officer
Telephone: 613-949-8680
LinkedIn: Marc McArthur

Targeted industry

Defence and security, aerospace, automotive, energy