So, this question has been asked before, but I would like to make a few stipulations regarding the specifics of my question.

Firstly, the aluminium in question is fabricated in modern times, and access to aluminium alloys and forges to produce them are available. Secondly, rather than use the aluminium to make true plate armor, I would want to use it to make a jacket of plates or a brigandine. The armor need not be bullet-resistant, but is instead generally used to prevent harm from melee weapons and creatures, i.e. bites, claws, etc.

Is this viable? And if not, what materials, alloys, or armor designs would be better?

Thanks in advance.

P.S. The reason for aluminium being chosen was initially justified by the story taking place in Iceland. Iceland does not naturally have aluminium deposits, but hundreds of thousands of tons of aluminium ore are shipped to Iceland annually for smelting, as Iceland's geothermal energy allows for the generally costly processing to be quite inexpensive even after the transportation costs. Thus, in the apocalyptic scenario of the story Iceland is cut off from the world, but hundreds of thousands of tons of unrefined aluminium, and the means to refine it, are left behind. I've considered steel and other more conventional armor materials, but harvesting it would require tearing down their own buildings and vehicles in order to obtain it.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ I gather that the means to produce petrochemicals will still be functional. I believe Iceland' oil production is largely from under ocean fields. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ You can only edit comments for 5 minutes. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ Without petrochemicals, vehicles are complex sources of scrap materials $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ FYI it's usually best to wait 24 hours after asking before accepting an answer, so people in all time zones have a chance to contribute $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


The society for creative anachronism (SCA) started out as a society of fantasy fiction lovers, and evolved into a serious medieval reenactment society. Mix lots of beer, gossip, and family fun with serious practical study of the methods and madness of the middle ages (and beer).

Many chapters have an armory shop where members can build their own equipment for use in battles and duels. Leadership of a kingdom is decided by combat intournament. Most events include battles.

Modern SCA plate armor is largely fabricated from surplus and scrap aluminum street signage. When well constructed, it is of comparable or better protective quality than middle ages iron or steel plating. The SCA rattan weaponry is about 50% heavier than period weaponry, so you actually feel more impact when you get hit than you would with period weapons.

Source - I made some of my own armor when I played in the sca.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you expand that acronym for the uninitiated, please? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, it took me a minute to find it, (SCA) Society for Creative Anachronism. Still not a hundred percent on what they are aside from, and pardon my potential ignorance here, a larping society. $\endgroup$
    – DJKnarnia
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ From what you are saying, given the right alloys and techniques, even plate armor is possible? $\endgroup$
    – DJKnarnia
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Metals are supercooled liquids. You can pound on them until they are the right shape provided the alloy is good. Even poor alloys can be heated and shaped. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ Modern aluminum plate armor is comparable or better than medieval iron or steel. Metallurgy has improved enormously over the centuries. For chain mail, modern coat hanger wire is much better than the best period materials. Very simply, you can't find materials any more as bad as what was the best in the middle ages. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:18

Aluminum is a great material for body armor, but not as a metal or alloy. Alumina is aluminum oxide and it can be made into a ceramic. Alumina ceramic makes excellent body armor as well as many other things.

ceramic body armor plate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HRGpQ6-rz8


Al2O3 Alumina (Aluminum Oxide, Al2O3) Alumina is the most well-known and most commonly used fine ceramic material. It has the same sintered crystal body as sapphire and ruby. It has been used for decades in electrical components for its high electrical insulation, and is widely used in mechanical parts for its high strength, and corrosion- and wear-resistance.


Alumina ceramic armor, working in conjunction with an appropriate backing system, can defeat various threats including armor-piercing rounds and IEDs. Typical ceramic composite armor systems, at approximately half the weight, outperform similar steel-based systems. These systems are frequently used in body armor, vehicle armor, and aircraft armor.

How it works: Conventional steel armor plate defeats an incoming projectile by reducing its kinetic energy through ductile deformation. In a ceramic composite based armor system, a different process is employed. First, the strike face surface causes significant deformation to the projectile, increasing its cross section. Its kinetic energy is reduced as the bullet is fragmentized on shattering the tile’s hard surface. The residual energy of the smaller fragments is absorbed by plastic or elastic deformation within the backing of the armor tile.

Alumina ceramics are one of those topics where the huge number of (very informative) manufacturer sites are better than what wikipedia offers. For example, I learned the word "fragmentized". Alumina ceramic armor is not some MadMax adhoc thing - these armors are modern serious competitors against steel plate and a foray into youtube finds considerable passion for and against ceramic vs steel plate armor.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply, I will look into this as, if nothing else, it looks interesting. But, as you mentioned it isn't something you can just make without some serious infrastructure in place, so for the purposes of the world it won't be as useful, but hey, information is always great. $\endgroup$
    – DJKnarnia
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ I thought it would be easier to make something out of alumina (which you have) than something like aluminum beryllium alloy, where you might not lack not only the tech but the alloying metal as well. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ I'm no chemist, so most of that went over my head, but I'll take a look. Additionally, most of these seem to be for use in bullet-resistant armors, which, to my knowledge tend to fair poorly against melee weaponry and pointed projectiles such as arrows. For example, ceramic would not make for good armor in a melee fight, as it would break within the first few strikes. $\endgroup$
    – DJKnarnia
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ OK, but the question is about armour made of aluminium metal, not about aluminium-containing compounds. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 20:48

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