Impact perforation of polymer-metal laminates: Projectile nose shape sensitivity
Recent research has established that polymer–metal laminates are able to provide enhanced impact perforation resistance compared to monolithic metallic plates of the same mass. A number of mechanisms have been proposed to explain this benefit, including the dissipation of energy within the polymer itself, and the polymer deformation enhancing dissipation within the metallic layer. This understanding of the layer interactions and synergies informs the optimisation of the laminate. However, the effect of the nose shape geometry of the projectile on perforation resistance of a particular laminate configuration has not been established. An optimal laminate configuration for one projectile may be sub-optimal for another. This investigation aims to clarify this nose shape sensitivity for both the quasi-static and impact perforation resistance of light-weight polymer–metal laminates. Bi-layer plates are investigated, with a polyethylene layer positioned on either the impacted or distal face of a thin aluminium alloy substrate. Three contrasting nose shapes are considered: blunt, hemi-spherical and conical. These have been shown to induce distinctly different deformation and fracture modes when impacting monolithic metallic targets. For all projectile nose shapes, placing a polyethylene layer on the impacted (rather than distal) face of the bi-layer plate results in an increase in perforation resistance compared to the bare substrate, by promoting plastic deformation in the metal backing. However, the effectiveness of the polymer in enhancing perforation resistance is sensitive to both the thickness of the polymer layer and the nose shape of the projectile. For a thin polyethylene layer placed on the impacted face, the perforation resistance is greatest for the blunt projectile, followed by the hemi-spherical and conical nose geometries. As the thickness of the polymer facing layer approaches the projectile radius, there is a convergence in both failure mode and perforation energy for all three nose shapes. Bi-layer targets can outperform monolithic metallic targets on an equal mass basis, though this is sensitive to the type of polyethylene used, the polymer layer thickness and the projectile nose shape. The greatest benefit of bi-layer construction (on an equal mass basis) is seen for blunt projectiles, using a polyethylene that maintains a high degree of strain hardening at high strain rates (i.e. UHMWPE), and a polymer thickness just sufficient to switch the failure mode in the metal layer from discing (failure at the projectile perimeter) to tensile failure at the plate centre.