The penetration of a 30CrMnMo ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene armor by a high-speed fragment was investigated via experiments and simulations. Analysis of the projectile revealed that the nose (of the projectile) is in the non-equilibrium state at the initial stage of penetration, and the low-speed regions undergo plastic deformation. Subsequently, the nose-tail velocities of the projectile were virtually identical and fluctuated together. In addition, the effective combination of the steel plate and polyethylene (PE) laminate resulted in energy absorption by the PE just before the projectile nose impacts the laminate. This early absorption plays a positive role in the ballistic performance of the composite armor. Further analysis of the internal energy and mass loss revealed that the PE laminate absorbs energy via the continuous and stable failure of PE fibers during the initial stages of penetration, and absorbs energy via deformation until complete penetration occurs. The energy absorbed by the laminate accounts for 68% of the total energy absorption, indicating that the laminate plays a major role in energy absorption during the penetration process.
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