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Deformation of Polymer Composites in Force Protection Systems

  • Author(s): Nazarian, Oshin
  • Advisor(s): Zok, Frank W
  • et al.


Deformation of Polymer Composites in Force Protection Systems


Oshin Nazarian

Systems used for protecting personnel, vehicles and infrastructure from ballistic and blast threats derive their performance from a combination of the intrinsic properties of the constituent materials and the way in which the materials are arranged and attached to one another. The present work addresses outstanding issues in both the intrinsic properties of high-performance fiber composites and the consequences of how such composites are integrated into force protection systems. One aim is to develop a constitutive model for the large-strain intralaminar shear deformation of an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber-reinforced composite. To this end, an analytical model based on a binary representation of the constituent phases is developed and validated using finite element analyses. The model is assessed through comparisons with experimental measurements on cross-ply composite specimens in the ±45° orientation. The hardening behavior and the limiting tensile strain are attributable to rotations of fibers in the plastic domain and the effects of these rotations on the internal stress state. The model is further assessed through quasi-static punch experiments and dynamic impact tests using metal foam projectiles. The finite element model based on this model accurately captures both the back-face deflection-time history and the final plate profile (especially the changes caused by fiber pull-in).

A separate analytical framework for describing the accelerations caused by head impact during, for example, the secondary collision of a vehicle occupant with the cabin interior during an external event is also presented. The severity of impact, characterized by the Head Injury Criterion (HIC), is used to assess the efficacy of crushable foams in mitigating head injury. The framework is used to identify the optimal foam strength that minimizes the HIC for prescribed mass and velocity, subject to constraints on foam thickness. The predictive capability of the model is evaluated through comparisons with a series of experimental measurements from impacts of an instrumented headform onto several commercial foams. Additional comparisons are made with the results of finite element simulations. An analytical model for the planar impact of a cylindrical mass on a foam is also developed. This model sets a theoretical bound for the reduction in HIC by utilizing a "plate-on-foam" design. Experimental results of impact tests on foams coupled with stiff composite plates are presented, with comparisons to the theoretical limits predicted by the analytical model. Design maps are developed from the analytical models, illustrating the variations in the HIC with foam strength and impact velocity.

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