Headquarters Address:

23 Acheson Drive,

Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Phone: 716-278-6233
Fax: 716-278-2373

Saint-Gobain has a variety of ceramic manufacturing operations in the United States.  These historical companies include The Carborundum Company, The Norton Company and Saphikon Crystals, each of which has been manufacturing ceramics for armor and defense applications for many years.

Saint-Gobain Ceramics offers a broad range of ceramic materials for ceramic armor protection systems, including Silicon Carbide, Boron Carbide, and Sapphire (transparent armor).  The various properties of these materials (such as high hardness, compressive strength, fracture toughness and elastic modulus) provide superior ballistic protection capabilities to help defeat high-velocity projectiles.

Saint-Gobain Ceramics has more than 40 years of experience in making ceramic armor systems, including the development of some of the first personal protection ceramic plates.  In fact, Saint-Gobain Structural Ceramics (formerly Carborundum) supplied more than 75,000 ceramic armor plates used during the Vietnam conflict.

The product line includes:

  • Hexoloy® sintered Silicon Carbide: high hardness, compressive strength, and light weight
  • Saphikon® Sapphire:  transparent material with high flexural strength and modulus of elasticity
  • Norbide® hot pressed Boron Carbide: high hardness, low density and ultra low weight
  • Silit SKDH® reaction bonded Silicon Carbide: high modulus and high sonic velocity
  • Forceram® nitride bonded Silicon Carbide: low density and good fracture toughness

To meet US Army demand for new and improved armor materials, Saint-Gobain proceeded with a multi-million dollar capital expansion.  At Saint-Gobain Structural Ceramics, the capital investment included sintering furnaces, presses and related processing equipment to make the next generation of ceramic body armor plates.  Saint-Gobain Crystals installed new growth stations to be able to manufacture larger sapphire sheets to better meet the Army’s needs.

Hexoloy Sintered Silicon Carbide for Ceramic Armor

The founder of Carborundum, Edward Acheson, was working for Thomas Edison when he discovered a process to make silicon carbide (while attempting to make artificial diamonds).  Carborundum was founded in 1891 based on Acheson's invention: silicon carbide (SiC).  Carborundum’s historical location is Niagara Falls, NY since the 1890s. 

Hexoloy® SA SiC was patented in 1979 by Carborundum and commercial sales began in 1980.  Saint-Gobain Ceramics is a vertically integrated supplier, from powder to the finished sintered Hexoloy alpha SiC ceramic armor part.  These are unique capabilities among sintered SiC manufacturers.

The parts available from these materials range from high-volume net shape tiles (square, rectangular and hexagonal) to complex engineered components.  Examples of complex products include torso plates (SAPI, ESAPI, XSAPI), side plates (ESBI, MSAP, SSAPI and XSBI), aircraft (AC-130U gunship panels), and vehicular (HMMWV doors and seats).


Sapphire for Transparent Armor 

As ballistic threats and armor specifications become tougher to defeat, ceramic composites are becoming a leading solution in reducing thickness and weight, while improving protection and transparency of land, naval, and aerial vehicles.

Sapphire is a high strength, durable, scratch resistant, chemically resistant, transparent material which is commercially available in production volumes.  Sapphire is currently used for large transparent armor and aerospace optical windows in commercial and military applications.

Saint-Gobain Crystals is the pioneer in offering sapphire transparent armor systems to address the increasing demands of ballistic performance on transparent armor.  Traditional transparent ballistic glass systems effectively address the requirements for low level threats.  In order to provide protection against higher levels threats, traditional glass laminate systems become excessively heavy and thick.  By incorporating EFG™ Sapphire into the transparent armor structure a 40% reduction in system-weight and thickness can be achieved, without compromising ballistic performance, or the ability to operate night vision goggles.

CLASS® sapphire sheets are manufactured in the United States, using the EFG™ technology. The technology has been developed and optimized by Saint Gobain Crystals.  The process allows the growth of large, single crystal sapphire to near-net shapes, thus reducing post-growth machining operations. Saint-Gobain Crystals offers the world’s largest sapphire sheets with commercially available sizes up to 9”x26” and 12”x20”; larger sheets are currently under development.

An important feature of the sapphire transparent armor system is the ability of the sapphire strike-face to break apart the core of the AP projectile. This means that subsequent inter-layers, glass, and backing material need only defeat smaller, lower-energy projectiles.

Further, when used in harsh environments (including sand abrasion and chemicals), traditional designs tend to exhibit a loss in clarity. Thanks to its unique optical properties sapphire retains its clarity in the VIS-IR-UV ranges, without displaying any coloring. 

For more information, see our website at or call us at (716) 278-6233.