Materials of the Imperium

posted: 12th Aug, 2007 - updated: 1st Feb, 2013

Construction

The Adeptus Mechanicus supplies the Imperium with technologies fashions from a number of materials that are difficult to produce on many worlds. The materials require much work and are fashion in the hellish fire pits of the forge worlds. The Imperium makes extensive used of advanced ceramics for all building construction, vehicles, armour and weapons. These materials are complimented with resin based composites.

Advanced Ceramics

The Imperium make great use of advanced ceramics and derivatives. The advanced ceramics are not like traditional ceramic pottery, they are much stronger: boron carbide is used in modern body armour, and titanium nitride is very hard and used as a coating for tool bits (its metallic and looks like gold!). The Arcanist of the Adeptus Mechanicus have access to more advanced ceramics that we do today. The 'Cera' prefix used in this group of materials refers to advanced ceramic based products and composites. All materials in this category have excellent insulation properties and easy to work with. Many of the names that are used for old style ceramics are used to describe advanced ceramics in ordinary situations, such as 'pottery' when describing cups and utensils made of advanced ceramics.

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Ceramite

Ceramite is an advanced (organo-polymer) ceramic castable media with great mechanical strength, high wear resistance and extreme thermal tolerance. It is mixed with water and cast in moulds. In its pure form it is used to make precast objects, which are then machined and shipped to Forge World assembly plants or as STC work units. Due to Ceramite's thermal tolerance and innate toughness it is the material of choice for constructs exposed to sudden thermal shock and high impacts; such as vehicle armour plating, and body armour. Though it does appear in pure form it's often mixed with other materials, or used as a layer within a composite material (such as 'Armaplas').

A cast Ceramite object is refereed to as a Ceraplast(os) when referring to statues or mouldings, Cera-cast when referring to building components, and as well as Ceraform (see below) when referring to vehicle components (which have been heat-treated). Technically they are all 'Ceraforms'.

Ceraforms (Cast Ceramite)

Ceramite can be combined with various powdered aggregates to yield a wide range of products. Common aggregates include Silicon Carbide, Bauxite, Fused Silica and Fused Alumina. These Ceraform mixtures are heavily used in the construction industry, and appear in virtually all Imperial architecture, and heavy industry.

Non Adeptus Mechanicus personnel refer to Ceraforms as ‘Ceramite' it is the most commonly encounter version and because that's the name on the bag! There are several types of common Ceramite that all require water to initiate the reaction. Water has to be treated to slow down the reaction so it can be mixed before it sets. The larger the Ceraform the more inhibitor has to be added to the mix. Ceramite is the primary ingredient in the Ceracrete building material, it also appears in Imperial Guard body armours (easy to repair).

[Also known as: Pottery, Ceraware, Corestone, Stonecast, Hardform, Terrabuild, Rockframe, Hardstone and Orite.]

Precast Ceraforms used in Construction

Ceraforms are most commonly prefabricated (There is no water needed with this type of Ceraform). These Ceraforms are delivered in plate and block form used extensively in building construction. Considering how strong these materials are, they come with holes punched out of specific areas to take rivets, the holes are arranged to STC standards. The primary joining medium is glue and not the rivets, the rivets are there to hold the pieces together and apply pressure while the glue sets (glue also acts as Caulking). It is this system of 'glue and rivet' that gives much of the Imperial structures that characteristic 'riveted wrought iron' look, and olde world charm (to our modern eyes). They are flat packed for easy transit and many a structure in the Imperium is a 'build by numbers' kit.

Ceraplate: The are many sizes and grades of Ceraplate but all are STC compliant. This material turns up everywhere, from a fire proof base walling material in buildings to a layer in military armour. Most of the Imperium's warship are Ceraplate construction at their heart, as are many military vehicles. This is why they have all those rivets.

Ceraframe: This is the ceraform version of an RSJ (rolled steel joist) and is used in conjunction with the other ceraform materials. Ceraframe and Ceraplate can be used to make very strong structures, and can be used from vehicles to building super structures.

Cerablock: Primarily a building material or heat treated to be used as a liner (furnace/ fire brick). Building with Cerablock is similar to building with pretty much any material, but Cerablock is usually lower grade and often used without a rivet support system. If used with a rod and lock system (runs though the middle of the Cerablocks) it can be clamped to create stronger compression joins.

Similar to Glass-ceramics, but classified as 'plastic-glass' ceramics (doesn't exist) due to flexibility. [Also: Brick, Block, Adobe]. This class also covers advanced ceramics used in tools such as ceramic knives (and other cutlery and tools) thought much stronger and less brittle than current (zirconia) materials used.

Treatments

Ceraform precast objects can be fired for improved thermal performance but without the presence of fantastically high pressures it will reduce mechanical strength. At extreme (uncompressed) temperature treatment Ceraform becomes brittle and starts to exhibit mechanical properties similar to conventional ceramics. This type of material is often used as part of a layer composite, often combined with non fired Ceraform layers (and also appears as a surface treatment where one side of a sheet is brittle and highly heat resistant, and the other tough but far less insulating.) Ceraforms can become brittle if hit with extreme heat, such as a Las blast.

Notes: Forge World names: STC pattern forms made by a particular Forge World are named after the Forge World. A modification of the Forge World name is used in place of 'Cera'. Maraform is a STC Ceraform made on Mars, Maracreate, Maraplate, Marablock etc. If Pluto made Ceraplate is would be 'Plutacrete'.

Buildings: Cast Ceramite frame forms the superstructure of the building with Ceraplate glued (Cerabond) to the frame and held in place with rivets. This gives Imperial ‘raw' architecture a distinctive look. Once the basic building is up, various facades can be applied, the most common is ‘Imperial' which a broad gothic architecture derivative.

Buildings and vehicles are made in a similar way, following the construction peculiarities of the STC.

Ceraous

Formed under high heat and pressure, this group is the strongest of all. The toughest materials have to be milled on plasma lathes and no material is hard enough to reliably cut them. Most commonly recognised use is for mono-molecular blades, but it is also the material of choice for power swords and weapons due its ability to evenly propagate sub-powerfield 'essence' through its structure.

This material is hardly ever used on armours, unless combined with a p-field emitter, in which case it is fantastically robust.

Adamantine

Transparent Ceramic material (a preformed Ceraplate available in generic plate and custom shapes) used in windscreens and windows and if an effective bullet shield against most small-arms. Archaic versions: ALON and Transparent Alumina. It is also used in optical/ holo storage media.

Often combined with a dynamic layer sandwiched between two sheets of Adamantine, such as a polarised light filter, or embedded with display technologies.

Bioceramics

Refined Ceraform is bio-compatible and is used in place of Hydroxylapatite in skeletal augmentations. Hydroxylapatite is used in non-augment reconstructive surgery at the low end, and though widely used, it is technically not an advanced ceramic or a ceraform material at all. This group includes other advanced bio-compatible materials, which are very robust.

Space Marines have their skeletons altered with a relative of the Ceramite material which strengthens the bone to the point beyond than high tensile steel. A marines skull is literally 'bullet proof' by our standards and can defeat bullets as if type IV modern day body armour, but with multi-hit resistance. Their bones are stronger than steel bars.

Notes on handling: The Bio-nytes in some versions of Ceraform are dangerous and can 'calcify' flesh, transforming the top layer of skin into a bone like substance and then building the robust ceraform over the top, akin to tooth enamel. This version is usually classed as Bioceramics, but also include some aquatic applications. Many servitors who use these materials become plated in this enamel, and some humans have found out that their finger tips have a layer of bone like substance (also they good for false nails, and Nobel women have extreme nail fashions).

Cermets

Cermets are composite material composed of Ceramic (Cer) and Metal (Met). More info on CerMet here. CerMets are basically an advanced ceramic (see above) held within a metal matrix (usually the metal content is less than 20%). Some of these ceramic-metal blends are exceptionally strong. The best known of the CerMets within the Imperium, due to it's military applications, is the 'Adamantia' group.

Adamantia

Sub-group: Formed under extreme high pressure Has a dull, almost matt, silvery finish and is often mistaken for a metal. ' Adamantia' is a group name and covers several materials including the primary 'Adamantium' from which the group takes it name. It is hard to tell the materials apart, but at the basic level the material is the same and has as much to due with the specifics of manufacture. The Cult name them after a number, with Adamantium-1 being the first invented. The Imperium make heavy use of Adamantium-13. There are several Imperial names for the various materials depending on which sector of space you are in. [Also: Silverstone, Ironstone, Irotal, Metalstone, Metrock, Metstone, Ceraferrium, Obdurite and Ortal]

Adamantium-13: The classic 'super material' of the Imperium. Often used in vehicle and armour manufacture as a framing or super structure material onto which ceraplate is attached via glue (cerabond) and rivets. Though the rivets give a distinctive look, they are in fact merely a temporary fixing (but aren't often removed) while the glue cures. The strength, and seal, of the join is down to the glue.

This versatile wonder material appears in Space Marine vehicles both large and small, from their massive strike cruisers, through Land Raider and Rhino APCs, right down to bikes. It even appear in their dreadnoughts and power armour (also appears in the Sisters of Battle power armour). The material has been adapted for many uses, some of the more esoteric forms are internal, custom shaped, skull plates found within the Space Marines: replacing bone sections, and bonded in place via a bioceramics layer. A more utilitarian use is pain old cutlery (very tough and doesn't melt, cleansed with fire).

Ceramic Based Media

A mixture of ceramic material suspended within a medium. The Ceramic is ground to various grades from fine powder to chips. The mediums are binders such as resins (often mixed with another agent, much like an epoxy), an inhibiting fluid to stop a reaction (boil off) or nano (organic) -suspension fluid.

Cerafoam

Ceramic based bonding lattice foam (micro-vacuum bubble) filler and insulation. This material is quite flexible and very light, with exceptional insulation quantities and is often found in buildings as a fireproofing layer sandwiched between ceraplate. It also is used in composites as a thickening layer to improve strength, impact resistance by providing a backing, and also used as a sound proofing material. Ideal for engine houses that use the STC thermo-electric engine (which can get very hot).

[Also: Therma-Foam, Lock-Foam]

Therma-Paint

Ceracoat Ceramic based paint available in many colours and bonds exceptionally well with advanced Ceramics. Provides good heat resistance and insulation if applied to non-ceramic materials. Provides excellent protection to metal components, and it fire proof.

Cerabond

Organo-Chemical based glue used to bond advanced ceramics. High heat resistance and exceptional strength. Further divided into groups and numbered, such as; Cerabond-5 used to bond certain armours used by marines (Adamantium). It uses micro-organisms to stitch the components together on an atomic level, using part of their own structure to complete the bond. The two joined parts are considered 'seamless' for most applications. Only of very high specification jobs would this even become an issue (space craft, and warp drive casings) and demand mono-mould designs.

Non Ceramic and Hybrid Group

The Imperium makes such heavy use of Ceramics that it is easier to classify all other materials as 'non-ceramic'. Non-Ceramic materials are far more common outside the Imperial institutions. These materials turn up locally and are used buy technicians licensed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. These technicians are also responsible for putting together STC kits,a nd have a wide range of skills. Manufacture of components using these materials is allowed locally.

Plas- (Epoxy)

The 'Plas' prefix used in this group of materials refers to synthetic resin (epoxy etc.) based products. These products are usually combined with other materials with the epoxy acting as a binder. There are several hundred (if not thousands) of epoxies and products but the most import products are listed as follows.

Plas-steel: (not Plas-Steel): Resin and steel particle based material.

Plas-fibre: Carbon fibre and other fibre composites. Carbon based Plas-fibre is very light and often used where weight is a factor in the design. Plas-fibre using high grade fibre is used as a layer in composite materials such as Armaplas (combined with CerMet) and various Flak body armours (combined with ballistic grade Ceraplate) and low grade 'mesh' (pseudo-mesh) armours.

Plas-create: Concrete substitute made with an epoxy binder and Ceramite reground power or micro-chips.

Ferrocrete

Steel mesh and rebar reinforced epoxy based concrete (Ferro-Plasecrete). A cheaper substitute from pure cerablock and ceraplate but still vastly superior to concrete. Has even be used as ablative armour.

Armaplas

CerMet (Adamantium group) encapsulated Plas-fibre, with Plasteel layers. Used extensively in various armours. It is an easy material to handle and attach. Plates are supplied precut, and as well as full armour sections there are available small square sections used as ad-hoc ablative armour or for field repair (and even ad-hoc flak reinforcement!).

Plas-Steel (not Plasteel): 'Plastic' polymer tension web reinforced CerMet (Armaplas is subgroup). This material is made up of tough polymer layers impregnated with binding CerMet and compressed together to make a tough armoured material. The panel shape is defined in the compression process. As a material it has similar look to a dull steel and can be used as a steel replacement. The difference is in its flexibility to high stressors, such as high velocity impacts where it outperforms steel. It has steels malleable quality and does not fracture, and a 'smart memory' ability under the influence of an electric field that allows dents to 'pop out'. Often used as part of electric armour on vehicles to protect them from shaped charges and explosively formed penetrators.

Ceracrete

Sub-group: Ceraform/ Low (1 ATM) pressure):(sub-group: Ceraform/ Low (1 ATM) pressure): Used in building construction in place of modern day concrete. A Ceramite binder with Cerachips. Variations in the current Imperium include stone based aggregate in place of Cerachips known (incorrectly) as Rokcrete.

Other (Local) Materials

Concrete: Composite material composed of mineral aggregate stuck together with a binder, whether that binder is portland cement, asphalt or even epoxy. This includes the Rokcrete, Ferrocrete and Plascrete.

Display Materials

These materials and devices are used by the common man of the Imperium to display information. The are supplied by the Adeptus Mechanicus as pre-fabricated units and hence count as a 'material' in Imperial classification. The Adeptus Mechanicus does not use these primitive display devices themselves - and instead rely on their Electrograft brain implants to create images directly in their visual cortex. This list of display technology covers the very 'basic' devices that turn up in many places of the Imperium.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED)

Display technology, using stacked OLEDs. These turn up as display screens. They are popular with the Adeptus Mechanicus as they are derived from 'organic' materials. These screens can be very thin, however they are often sandwiched in between plates of Adamantine and edged in metal making them very robust and resistant to many small caliber bullets (bolts slice through them with ease!). Most screens are monochrome and common display colours are green and orange.

Display technology (Dynamic e-paper)

40K makes great use of an advanced form of 'e-paper'. It is a primary recording medium as it does not require a charge to maintain the information, the information is displayed in human readable language and not machine language in a computer file.

E-paper can be written on normally with ink, but this is not the intent, as it is designed to be used with a special stylus (Quill). To activate the paper it has to be placed in a charging frame. Charging frames come in many forms, some can take a single page (i.e. for form filling) and others can be very ornate and can take a whole 'book' (and simply attach to the spine*). The charging frame is security controlled and requires an encrypted password of thousands of characters. This password is transmitted by the stylus, and the stylus can only be activated via DNA touch (your have to hold it, or be attached in some way, i.e. via an auto-writer).

* Breaking the spine on one of this books is a quick way to destroy it, and seeing as Librarians in 40K are ├╝ber Psyker marines of death, citizens of the Imperium are very careful with books. Very careful. Destroying a sanctioned Imperial book carries a penalty of death.

Once in the correct charging frame the e-paper becomes active, and while in this mode is very much like a word processor on the ancient pre-Dark Age of Technology 'tablet PC'. Indeed many function on a PC can be done on e-paper included spreadsheets, auto-calculations etc. It can even display moving pictures, and many Illuminated Manuscripts really come to live in their charging frame, with illustrations acting as embedded movie clips.

Once the e-paper is removed from it's frame it freezes 'as is'. It becomes static and can not be changed while out of it's frame.

Note: Some Inquisitor secret e-paper documents can only be seen once in a charging frame, but they will turn black if put into a charging frame without the correct passwords, and often corrupt the charging frame with a potent machine micro-spirit (computer virus, also known as a 'gremlin').

SUNLIGHT: Some e-paper has a built in solar cell layer and can covert light into the energy needed to power the e-paper. This means in light conditions the e-paper will come to life.

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