Multiple role playing games make use of sub-dermal or dermal armor. This includes fusing plates of material directly to the skin and implanting material below the derma.

I see huge problems with all of this. Placing plates under the skin would likely end in migration. That is, the material would move out of place as skin, facia, other tissues refresh themselves. Anchoring this stuff in place would be a nightmare unless it is screwed into or simply coats bone -- coating the bone would be a massive problem too the least of the reasons being disruption to calcium storage. I can't figure out how it would it would lay between layers without disrupting the nerves and vasculature that inundadate the skin layers.

So let's assume that this is 300-400 years in the future. Therapeutic cloning exists -- specific organs can replace complex who organs. Organ rejection is a thing of the past. Nanites far exceed our red blood cells in their ability to deliver oxygen, they can deliver drugs directly the sites of action, and can even speed up thought. Genetic engineering has wiped out cancer and it is possible to increase the density of bone significantly as well as let you run for miles without exhaustion.

Is there a way to make implanted armor concept work?

When I say armor I don't mean something that could stop a 7.62 or 5.56 mm round. I mean small handgun (32-caliber) at point blank. The wearer would need to retain 90 - 90% of movement. However the aromor would not need to be concealable.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there a reason that you want to keep the original skin? Synthetic skin replacement may be an option and end the migration problem you describe because there are no skin cells to be refreshed. Someone who wants their arms armored could simply have all the skin on their arms removed (stripped down to the muscle) and wrap their arm in synthetic skin instead $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Nov 22, 2020 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ Ignoring that nanobots are the SF equivalent of magic anyway, subdermal armor doesn't have to be solid plates. Passively, silk has been used to make bulletproof vests so one could imagine nanobots creating a woven layer of bio-compatible silk-analogue beneath the skin to resist pistol caliber rounds. Actively, nanobots could create a power grid along the dermal layer connected to an implanted power storage module, which could be used with, for example, a material that hardened when supplied with power or some analogue of dynamic armor (see the Wikipedia article) to provide point protection. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2020 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


Grow it

First of all, tattoos don't need to be planted that deep. Any armour placed at that depth should be fine against a "refresh". Also some piercings, like in the chest, are attached to a plate under the skin. These have a chance of growing out but are generally fine.

300 years into the future we might be able to do wonderful genetic alterations. We might be able to change how it grows. Normally evolution balances energy usage with a certain gain. We don't need to balance anymore in our well fed cultures. If we biologically can create graphite layers in between our normal layers for example, or just edit for a much tougher skin full with iron in specific places, you wouldn't need to add the armour anymore. You just give them the nutrition to grow it. This would certainly give the ability for high strength low weight options.

There are problems however. Even with body armour it does bot necessarily protect against bullets. The impact is small with a ton of force. You'll easily get bruises and contusions, if not worse, if hit while wearing body armour. With that in the skin you'll need some good techniques to transfer the energy over a larger area.


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