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Impact perforation of monolithic polyethylene plates: Projectile nose shape dependence

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Mohagheghian, I 
McShane, GJ 
Stronge, WJ 


Ductile thermoplastics, for example Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), are of interest for their impact energy absorbing capabilities. While the impact perforation mechanisms of metallic targets have been investigated in some detail, far less progress has been made towards understanding the impact resistance of ductile polymers. The aim of this investigation is to identify the relationship between the projectile tip geometry and impact energy absorption of semi-crystalline thermoplastics. The focus of the study is light-weight monolithic plates of extruded polymer impacted normally by rigid projectiles at velocities up to 100 ms−1. Three polymers will be considered: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE). Polyethylene provides a convenient test material, as variations in microstructure provide a contrast in mechanical properties, without significant variations in density. Three distinct projectile nose shapes are considered: blunt, hemi-spherical and conical. For a conical tip, perforation occurs by ductile hole expansion. For this nose shape the high yield strength and strain rate sensitivity of HDPE offers an advantage over the other two polyethylenes. Perforation by blunt and hemi-spherical projectiles is more sensitive to deformation localisation. The high strain hardening of UHMWPE, which increases with strain rate, results in a significantly greater impact resistance than either HDPE or LDPE. The perforation mechanisms and energy absorption of these PE plates are contrasted with those of thin aluminium alloy targets that have the same total mass. UHMWPE outperforms these metallic targets for all three projectile nose shapes. Finally, the influence of target thickness on the impact perforation of LDPE is considered. All three nose shapes show a linear increase in perforation energy with target thickness.



Impact, Perforation, Polymer, Polyethylene

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International Journal of Impact Engineering

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Elsevier BV
The authors are grateful for joint financial support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) through project EP/G042756/1 (Polymer Nanocomposites for Light Armour Applications).