How would I make a coat with armored plates on/in it. At a very low cost?

I happen to be one of those people who loves making things with my own hands rather than buy it, and who possibly has too much free time... Anyway, I am currently designing an armored coat, but lack the resources to use something like Cut Tex Pro fabric or something else ridiculously expensive. Because of this, I have resorted to using thin fiberglass plates in the coat; although due to my lack of knowledge on embedding armored plates into clothes, and on what sizes and shapes each plate should have varying on each choice, (knowledge is 99% experience, and 1% brain power), I'm not sure what would be more effective, external or internal plates. I would appreciate all opinions - (Trolls excluded) - on which choice would be most efficient, simple, or even just low cost; suggestions for alternative materials that offer a possibility of working better would also be welcome. 

sort by: active | newest | oldest
mole12 years ago

First, I have to say I know nothing about armor. Just offering a thought in a different direction. Meat cutters wear metal mesh gloves...(very expensive) and use serious knives. Can you make something like a metal mesh or chain mail T-shirt layer to wear under clothes?

jgdabble (author)  mole12 years ago

I have considered metal mesh, and have seen the metal gloves (extremely expensive, but I expect its worth the price). I actually purchased a variety of mesh samples and tested them with a knife. Unfortunately, the meshes that were light enough and flexible enough, wouldn't stop a stabbing motion.

As for simply making an armored undershirt, that's been done before, and I like being original. Also, I have made and used chain mail, its effective but heavy. A good idea, although I wouldn't want metal in contact with my skin, as metal can be very cold sometimes.

mole1 jgdabble2 years ago

"I wouldn't want metal in contact with my skin, as metal can be very cold sometimes." The knights of old agreed with you. They wore a layer under the metal. Hope you find something that works for you.

bwrussell2 years ago

Instead of trying to stop a knife thrust using shear material strength, which is very hard to do because the pressure generated at the point of a knife during a thrust is tremendous, you should be focusing on deflecting the blow. Look at the shape of medieval breastplates. They are very specifically designed, with a ridge down the middle, to redirect piercing blows away from vital areas (center of the chest). To accomplish this with a coat is going to be tough since the most critical area contains an opening. You will need some sort of overlap that fastens across the center or else you've essentially built a fence but no gate.

Want to stop a knife then you will need plating of some sort. None of which is cheap. You could embed overlapping pieces of 1/8" lexan into the coat.

Along the same lines as the phone book idea you can layer phone book or news paper in resin up to about 1/8" thick and layer small plates of that in the coat. Much cheaper than lexan. No more than $30 for a gallon of resin and a gallon of hardener. Which would more than cover your needs.

Size and shape of each won't matter too much. You will want to layer them like roof shingles. One plate next to another with little more than a 1/8" gap between them. Then the next layer should overlap that gape from the previous layer. Each layer should overlap the previous by about half it's length for max protection and to help minimize the weak side of the armor which is from an upward thrust. Won't be vary light weight but it will do the job and still allow some flexibility in movement. Weather the plates hang off the outside of the coat or inside won't matter unless the coat material is a good heavy fabric. The heavier the fabric the more protection you will have.

jgdabble (author)  mpilchfamily2 years ago

Making plates out of layered newspaper and resin sounds like the best Idea right now, if only because its inexpensive. Unless you know this because of personal experience, could you tell me where you found it? (I have lots of experience where something like this can go wrong, and I like to make sure I'm doing it right.)

Well for one the Myth Busters did a show where they made armor from paper and glue in an Asian style of scale plating. Now their plates where about 1" to 2" thick but they where stopping an arrow.


Also paper and resin would be similar to fiberglass or carbon fiber but not as strong and much cheaper. You'll want to play around with thicknesses and see what kind of results you get. The paper resin combo may be brittle but that can be reenforces with a layer or 2 of scrap cloth. Or you can spend a bit more and get a role of aluminum screening used to fix window screens. Embed that in the middle of the paper and resin for added strength. Kind of like using rebar in concrete for added strength.

iceng2 years ago

A half inch of a phone book as a low cost ceramic armor plate pate is very effective in relation to the stop vs cost ratio.

jgdabble (author)  iceng2 years ago

Theoretically speaking, any substance will stop a knife if its thick enough, including butter... Unfortunately there is a physical limitation to what I can attach to a coat, and be classified as "effective armor". A phone book would stop a knife, and is a good idea for a possible archery/ knife target, I don't think it would work as wearable armor. Even if I do wish I could get armor materials at that price. :-)

Vyger iceng2 years ago

He would need to make sure to stay out of the rain. But the raw material is free.

iceng Vyger2 years ago

It's raining Reno right now :-D

Vyger2 years ago

If you wanted to make something out of metal it would not be that hard to do, just time consuming.

Galvanized sheet metal (the kind used in air ducts, would work fine. The hard part would be cutting out the individual pieces. Hexagon pieces (bee hive pattern) about one to 2 inches each with a hole drilled in each edge. Then just hook them together with wire loops. You need to file or sand down every cut edge so they will not be sharp. You can polish it or paint it any color. The spacing of the pieces will determine the movement ability. Tighter pieces mean more restricted movement.

jgdabble (author)  Vyger2 years ago

I hadn't thought of using sheet metal before. I even experimented with different steel meshes, and I didn't even consider using sheet metal! Thanks for the suggestion, I will definitely look into this.

rickharris2 years ago

What do you expect this to prevent?

knife attack or gun shot.

Pistol, automatic or rifle?

jgdabble (author)  rickharris2 years ago

My goal is to prevent a knife thrust or stab; I realize how much engineering and physics goes into designing bullet resistant armor, and I doubt I would be able to successfully replicate that process.