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Polymers 2019, 11(3), 447;

Rheological Characterization of Next-Generation Ballistic Witness Materials for Body Armor Testing

Material Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA
Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005, USA
U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 January 2019 / Revised: 24 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Roma Plastilina No. 1 (RP1), an artist modeling clay that has been used as a ballistic clay, is essential for evaluation and certification in standards-based ballistic resistance testing of body armor. It serves as a ballistic witness material (BWM) behind the armor, where the magnitude of the plastic deformation in the clay after a ballistic impact is the figure of merit (known as “backface signature”). RP1 is known to exhibit complex thermomechanical behavior that requires temperature conditioning and frequent performance-based evaluations to verify that its deformation response satisfies requirements. A less complex BWM formulation that allows for room-temperature storage and use as well as a more consistent thermomechanical behavior than RP1 is desired, but a validation based only on ballistic performance would be extensive and expensive to accommodate the different ballistic threats. A framework of lab-scale metrologies for measuring the effects of strain, strain rate, and temperature dependence on mechanical properties are needed to guide BWM development. The current work deals with rheological characterization of a candidate BWM, i.e., silicone composite backing material (SCBM), to understand the fundamental structure–property relationships in comparison to those of RP1. Small-amplitude oscillatory shear frequency sweep experiments were performed at temperatures that ranged from 20 °C to 50 °C to map elastic and damping contributions in the linear elastic regime. Large amplitude oscillatory shear (LAOS) experiments were conducted in the non-linear region and the material response was analyzed in the form of Lissajous curve representations with the values of perfect plastic dissipation ratio reported to identify the degree of plasticity. The results show that the SCBM exhibits dynamic properties that are similar in magnitude to those of temperature-conditioned RP1, but with minimal temperature sensitivity and weaker frequency dependence than RP1. Both SCBM and RP1 are identified as elastoviscoplastic materials, which is particularly important for accurate determination of backface signature in body armor evaluation. The mechanical properties of SCBM show some degree of aging and work history effects. The results from this work demonstrate that the rheological properties of SCBM, at small and large strains, are similar to RP1 with substantial improvements in BWM performance requirements in terms of temperature sensitivity and thixotropy. View Full-Text
Keywords: rheology; polymer composites; rubber process analyzer; ballistic clay; LAOS; viscoplasticity; viscoelasticity rheology; polymer composites; rubber process analyzer; ballistic clay; LAOS; viscoplasticity; viscoelasticity

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Tao, R.; Rice, K.D.; Djakeu, A.S.; Mrozek, R.A.; Cole, S.T.; Freeney, R.M.; Forster, A.M. Rheological Characterization of Next-Generation Ballistic Witness Materials for Body Armor Testing. Polymers 2019, 11, 447.

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