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Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231

Carbon, polyethylene and PBO hybrid bre composites for structural lightweight armour
Fritz Larsson*, Lars Svensson 1
Protection and Materials Department, Weapons and Protection Division, Swedish Defence Research Agency, Grindsjon, SE-147 25 Tumba, Sweden Received 8 September 1999; revised 8 May 2001; accepted 30 May 2001

Abstract The properties of hybrid composite materials (based on carbon and organic bres) have been investigated, with a view to using these materials in polymer composites lightweight structural armour. Laminates were manufactured and their specic ballistic properties and specic compressive strength after impact were determined. The introduction of organic bres in order to improve ballistic properties has been successful. The associated reduction of specic compressive strength can be more than compensated for by an increase of specic ballistic properties. To achieve this, fractions of each bre type and their distribution must be optimised and matrices must be optimised to the function of the respective bre. q 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: B. Mechanical properties; A. Hybrid; A. Carbon bre; Structural lightweight armour

1. Introduction Much research and development work has been carried out on advanced structural polymer composites with continuous bre reinforcement since they appeared in the 1960s. The use of carbon bre composites in demanding structural applications is now well established. During the last few years, great efforts have been made to exploit composites as lightweight armour, using organic bres such as aramid and polyethylene bres. However, very few investigations have been reported on the possibility of making structural lightweight armour out of polymer composites for applications in defence such as lightweight armoured vehicles, combat aircraft and ghting ships. It should be feasible to produce such armour by bre hybridisation, where one bre is used to contribute structural properties and another bre to give ballistic properties. The published work in the area [16] supports the hybridisation idea, but much work remains to be done. One aspect, which has received little attention, is residual strength after ballistic impact. The present investigation was carried out in order to evaluate what can be achieved by bre hybridisation for structural lightweight armour applications using hybrid composites
* Corresponding author. Address: Vargovagen 11, SE-122 47 Enskede, Sweden. E-mail address: (F. Larsson). 1 Present address: Defence Material Administration, TKC General Systems, SE-115 88 Stockholm, Sweden.

containing carbon and organic bres [polyethylene PE and poly(p-fenyl-2, 6-benzobisoxazol) PBO] with the main emphasis on the effects of bre distribution and bre fractions on specic ballistic properties and specic strength after impact. 2. Experimental details A number of laminates have been made, most of them by resin transfer moulding (RTM). Additional laminates have been press moulded from prepreg or by lm stacking. Other laminates were assembled by using adhesive bonding to join laminates manufactured by different processes. 2.1. Materials The choice of bres was made after evaluating several candidates: T300 carbon bre, S-2 glass bre, K-129 aramid bre, SK66 and SK75 polyethylene bres and Zylon AS poly(p-fenyl-2, 6-benzobisoxazol) (PBO) bre. Fibre properties are shown in Table 1. Density, quasi-static mechanical properties, energy absorption potential in tension (EAP) [7] and heat resistance are shown. EAP is dened as tensile fracture energy multiplied by sound velocity. The calculation of energy absorption potential is, due to the lack of dynamic values, based on quasi-static values of fracture strain and modulus of elasticity. Carbon bre was chosen as the bre with the principal

1359-835X/02/$ - see front matter q 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 1359-835 X(01)00 095-1


F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231

Table 1 Fibre properties including EAP and heat resistance Fibre T300 S-2 K-129 SK66 SK75 Zylon AS

Density (kg/m 3) 1760 2500 1440 970 970 1540

Tensile strength (GPa) 3.5 4.6 3.3 3.2 3.5 5.8

Modulus of elasticity (GPa) 230 88 64 98 118 180

Fracture strain (%) 1.5 5.2 4.3 3.7 3.7 3.5

EAP 10 211 (J/m 2 s) 3.0 7.1 3.9 6.8 8.9 11.9

Heat resistance (8C) a 1050 550 150 150 650

Melting or decomposition.

function of load-bearing, because of a superior combination of density, strength and modulus of elasticity compared to S-2 glass bre. The polymer bres cannot be considered for this function since their composites have a very low compressive strength. For the energy absorption function, polyethylene and PBO bres were chosen because they have the highest specic energy absorption potentials. 2.1.1. Fabrics Most of the investigation was conducted using laminates reinforced with non-crimp-fabrics, Table 2. We have chosen this kind of reinforcement for structural reasons. A basket weave may have been better with respect to ballistic properties [8]. The areal weight of the different fabrics has been chosen so that their `solid' thickness is the same, thus eliminating any inuence on ballistic properties of fabric thickness [9]. 2.1.2. Matrices For RTM, an epoxy matrix with as high a fracture toughness as possible was chosen. The epoxy was Araldite LY 5052 component A and B mixed in a ratio of 100:38 parts by weight. The curing cycle was 24 h at room temperature and 8 h at 808C. The resin had a tensile strength of 85 MPa, a tensile modulus of 3.1 GPa, a fracture strain of approximately 8% and a fracture toughness, GIC, of 202 J/m 2. Film stacking was accomplished with a phenolPVB lm from FVT Faserverbundtechnik GmbH, with designation FT 206 and a weight per unit area of 35 g/m 2.
Table 2 Fabric data Carbon bre fabric Designation Fibre Fibre density (kg/m 3) Tow Tex number Fibre surface treatment Weight per unit area (g/m 2) Fibre directions (8) `Solid' thickness/reinforcing ply (mm) Brunswick Technologies Europe Ltd, Cotech C-BX 340 style 3143 non-crimp Torayca T300 3 k 1760 200 For epoxy and polyester 340 ^45 0.0966

2.1.3. Prepreg The prepreg was DSM UDX 75 HB2, containing four unidirectional layers of Dyneema SK75 bre with 0,90,0,90 lay-up in an elastomeric matrix. The weight per unit area of the prepreg was 270 g/m 2. After processing the thickness/bre ply was 0.068 mm. 2.1.4. Adhesive The adhesive used for joining laminates made by different processes was Araldite 2018 exible polyurethane. 2.2. Manufacturing methods 2.2.1. Resin transfer moulding Epoxy matrix laminates were manufactured by RTM by means of the equipment shown in Fig. 1. After a fabric stack and release lms of teon-coated glass fabric were put into the mould, the short edges of the stack were sealed and the mould was closed. Vacuum was then applied and the resin pot was pressurised to 34 bars. During injection, the mould was preheated to 35408C in order to facilitate resin ow. After curing at room temperature for 24 h laminates were post-cured for 8 h at 808C. Hybrid bre laminates with separated bres were post-cured in the mould in order to produce at laminates. Other laminates were post-cured in an oven. Laminates manufactured using the process described are practically void-free. 2.2.2. Press moulding Press moulding of the polyethylene bre prepreg was

Polyethylene bre fabric Brunswick Technologies Europe Ltd, Cotech P-BX 200 non-crimp Dyneema SK66 970 44 No 200 ^45 0.103

PBO bre fabric `Institut fur Textiltechnik der RWTH Aachen Auftragsnummer: 12961' non-crimp Toyobo Zylon AS 1540 222 0.5% Ethylene oxide/propylene oxide 316 ^45 0.103

F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231


forced RTM laminates and organic bre reinforced press moulded laminates. The process was performed with the following parameters: a weight per unit area of 300 g/m 2, a curing pressure of approximately 0.06 MPa, and a curing temperature and time of 608C for 2 h, respectively. Section 2.7.4 describes which laminates were made using the different manufacturing methods. 2.3. Test methods and specimens 2.3.1. Ballistic testing The ballistic experiments were carried out using powder guns (Fig. 2). Panels were xed in a frame during tests. Striking and residual velocity were measured with a magnetic and an optical sensor, respectively. Most of the experiments were conducted using a 5.46 mm fragment simulating projectile (FSP) with a mass of 1.116 g and a hardness of 312 HV, equivalent to approximately 32 HRC, according to US MIL-P-46593. Some experiments were also conducted using a 6.00 mm spherical steel ball with a mass of 0.88 g in order to obtain information on the inuence of the projectile shape. The projectile ballistic energy limit (i.e. the striking energy for zero residual energy) is in most cases estimated by straight-line regression of the residual and striking energy [10]. The regression is based on about eight shots. An illustration of the estimation method is shown in Fig. 3. For a few panels for which the number of penetrating shots was insufcient to apply the regression method, an estimation of the ballistic energy limit has been made based on non-penetrating shots with the highest energies and penetrating shots with the lowest energies. The typical uncertainty in velocity limit is estimated to be ^1520 m/s, which represents about ^5 J at 250 m/s and about ^10 J at 600 m/s in the energy limit. 2.3.2. Damage Damage to the epoxy laminates after ballistic testing has been investigated by ultrasonic B- and C-scan testing at 5 MHz. Two transducers with diameters 5 and 10 mm

Fig. 1. RTM equipment consisting of a mould with inner dimensions 35 94 cm which is heated/cooled with oil from the temperature controller to the right of the mould. In front to the left the pressurised resin pot is seen and to the right the vacuum pump which is connected to the mould at its rear long side.

carried out using an ordinary platen press. Lay-ups were started and nished with a thin lm of low-density polyethylene on the outer surfaces according to recommendations from the prepreg manufacturer. Pressure and temperature were increased in steps up to 3.57 MPa and 1258C, respectively. Moulding time was approximately 30 min. Film stacked lay-ups were press moulded at 1658C for 1 h. To achieve an intentionally low resin content of the lm stacked laminates, a frame of spacers that supported the 2.5 MPa pressure was used to obtain the intended laminate thickness. Laminate resin content was varied by laying one or two lms per fabric layer. Lay-ups were started and nished with the same number of lms that were laid per fabric layer. 2.2.3. Adhesive bonding Adhesive bonding was used to bond carbon bre rein-

Fig. 2. Equipment for ballistic testing. Striking velocity is determined by means of the tube with one coil at each end in front of the test laminate and residual velocity by the two optical sensors behind the laminate.

Fig. 3. Straight line regression of residual and striking energy of a fragment simulator. Ballistic energy limit is estimated as 25:648=0:69653 36:8 J.


F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231

Fig. 4. Firing plan of structural panels. The area at the right was used for determining ballistic velocity limit. Knowing this the three shots at the left were red for the compression-strength-after-impact-specimens.

were used. The investigations were made by the Aeronautical Research Institute of Sweden. 2.3.3. Compressive strength after ballistic impact After the FSP ballistic velocity limit of a structural panel had been determined, the panel was red at three points with a projectile velocity just above the ballistic velocity limit so that three centrally damaged specimens with a height of 254 mm in the 08 bre direction and a width of 163.5 mm could be cut, Fig. 4. The specimens were loaded in compression in the 08 direction in a xture, Fig. 5. In order to avoid local crushing of the loaded edges they were machined with a tolerance of 0.05 mm. All four-specimen edges were simply supported in order to suppress buckling. The experiments were run in a servo-hydraulic testing machine. Load was increased at a rate of 1 kN/s. Strain was measured by means of strain gauges, one gauge on each specimen surface, bonded 64 mm from the bottom edge at the centre line, Fig. 5. 2.3.4. Laminate and test combinations An overview of the investigations performed is presented in Table 3. The work was started with a series of carbon/ polyethylene hybrid bre laminates with the epoxy matrix manufactured by RTM, Table 4. Fibre fractions and distribution of bres were varied. In the cases of separated bres, with one bre type at the front and the other at the

Fig. 5. Fixture for compressive test after ballistic impact.

back surface, ring was done with the carbon bre surface as well as with the polyethylene bre surface as the striking surface. An analogous series of tests with carbon/PBO hybrid bre reinforcement then followed, Table 5. However in this case only laminates with separated bres were included and ballistic testing was done with the carbon bre surface as the striking surface. A bre content of approximately 50% by volume resulted in a nominal

Table 3 Overview of investigations performed (RTM, Resin transfer moulding; PM, Press moulding; FSP, Ballistic test with 5.46 mm fragment simulating projectile; CAI, Compression after impact; Ball, Ballistic test with 6 mm steel ball) Laminate Fibre Carbon/PE Carbon/PBO PE PBO Carbon PE Carbon PE Carbon PBO

Manufacturing method Matrix Epoxy Epoxy Fibre distribution Even, separated Separated RTM RTM PM PM RTM PM RTM PM RTM PM

Tests performed


Elastomer (prepreg) PhenolPVB Epoxy Elastomer (prepreg) Separated Epoxy Elastomer (prepreg) Separated Epoxy PhenolPVB Separated

Adhesive bonding a Adhesive bonding

FSP, Ball, CAI Tables 6, 911, 13 and 14 Figs. 6 and 7 FSP, Ball, CAI Tables 6, 9, 10 and 1214 Figs. 6 and 7 FSP Tables 7, 9 and 14, Fig. 7 FSP Tables 7, 9, 14, Fig. 7 FSP Tables 8, 9 and 14, Fig. 7 FSP Table 8 FSP Tables 8, 9 and 14, Fig. 7

5 mm air gap between carbon and PE laminates.

F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231


Table 4 Tested carbon/polyethylene hybrid bre epoxy laminates manufactured by RTM (C T300, PE SK66; Ball, FSP, ballistic testing with 6 mm ball, 5.46 mm FSP; CAI, Compression after impact test) Nominal bre content (vol%) Carbon C 100 75 Polyethylene PE 0 25 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C31(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C31(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE [(0/90,145/245)C(245/145)PE(90/0,0/90)C(145/245)PE(245/145,90/0)C]S (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C21(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE2 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C21(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE2 [(0/90)PE(145/245)C(245/145)PE(90/0)C(0/90)PE(145/245)C(245/145)PE(90/0)C]S (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C1(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE3 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C1(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE3 [(0/90,145/245)PE(245/145)C(90/0,0/90)PE(145/245)C(245/145,90/0)PE]S (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)PE4 Ball FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI Ball Lay-up Tests






laminate thickness of 6.0 mm. Based on measured laminate thickness, nominal weight of reinforcement and bre density, an absolute bre content by volume of 4955 and 51.555.5%, respectively was estimated for the two series. In addition, some 6 mm thick panels have been tested only for the FSP ballistic velocity limit. These were two press moulded polyethylene bre prepreg laminates with a quasi-isotropic lay-up 0; 90; 0; 900; 90; 0; 90 145; 245; 145; 2455S 90; 0; 90; 0 and a cross-ply lay-up (0,90,0,90)11S, respectively, and four lm stacked press moulded laminates with the PBO fabric reinforcement and with the phenolPVB lm as the matrix. The reinforcement lay-up of these four laminates was either quasi-isotropic (0/ 90,145/245,245/145,90/0)4 or cross-ply (0/90, 0/90)4S. Two laminates of each lay-up were made by adding one and two lms per fabric layer, respectively, resulting in a nominal phenolPVB resin content by weight of 10.8 and 19.7%, respectively. These six panels can be characterised as more or less ballistic-optimised and can hardly be considered as structural members because of the weak bonding between reinforcing plies. The FSP ballistic velocity limit has also been determined on three 6 mm thick panels consisting of a nominal 4.5 mm

carbon bre reinforced epoxy with lay-up (0/90,145/245, 245/145, 90/0)3 in front and a nominal 1.5 mm ballisticoptimised composite at the back, bonded with adhesive. The back composite consisted in one case of ve parallel oriented polyethylene bre prepreg plies, in another case of (0/90, 0/90)S PBO fabric with 12.4% phenolPVB resin and in one more case of (0/90, 0/90)S PBO fabric with 21.9% phenolPVB resin. Finally, the combination of 4.5 mm quasi-isotropic carbon bre epoxy and 1.5 mm polyethylene bre prepreg laminate has also been tested with a 5 mm air gap between the different laminates instead of them being bonded together.

3. Results and discussion 3.1. Ballistic properties The FSP ballistic velocity limits referring to laminates listed in Tables 4 and 5 are collated in Table 6, where bre contents have been recalculated based on nominal fabric areal weights. The best ballistic protection of the rst series of tests was obtained with laminates with the

Table 5 Tested carbon/PBO hybrid bre epoxy laminates manufactured by RTM (Z, Zylon AS) Nominal bre content (vol%) Carbon C 100 75 50 25 0 PBO Z 0 25 50 75 100 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C31(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)Z (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C21(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)Z2 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)C1(0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)Z3 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)Z4 (0/90,145/245,245/145,90/0)Z4 FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI FSP, CAI Ball Lay-up Tests


F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231 Table 8 5.46 mm FSP ballistic velocity limits of 6 mm thick hybrid bre laminates of 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy at the front and 1.5 mm laminates of weakly bonded organic bres at the back Laminate 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/1.5 mm UDX 75 HB2 prepreg b 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/5 mm air gap/1.5 mm UDX 75 HB2 prepreg b 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/1.5 mm PBO/phenolPVB 12.4% resin b 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/1.5 mm PBO/phenolPVB 21.9% resin b
a b

Table 6 5.46 mm FSP ballistic velocity limits (m/s) of 6 mm thick laminates with carbon and SK66 polyethylene/PBO bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix Fibre distribution Fibre fraction PE% 0 Even PE at the front PE at the back 257 26.7 243 251 313 52.2 278 268 324 76.6 278 271 334 78.4 461 100 321 100 447

Ballistic velocity limit (m/s) 432 357 419 464

Fibre fraction PBO% 0 26.1 53.1 PBO at the back 276 407 451

two types of bres separated so that the carbon bre reinforced part was at the front of the laminates. On this basis the next series, Table 5, was restricted to this case. It is noticeable that for laminates with carbon bres at the front surface the results for laminates with only 50% organic bres are the same as for laminates with 100%, and that results of laminates with 75% organic bres are higher than for 100% organic bres. Furthermore, velocity limit differences between laminates with 25 and 100% organic bres are small. The degree of signicance of the differences between results of these four organic bre contents is, however, uncertain since we do not know exactly the standard deviation of the respective results. It should also be pointed out that we expected much higher ballistic velocity limits for the laminates with 100% polyethylene or PBO bres. We have interpreted these results as a consequence of the rigidity of the epoxy matrix, since this does not allow bres or laminae at the back surface to move relative to each other during penetration so that they store energy by tensioning, which is a dominant mechanism for energy absorption in an efcient bre composite for ballistic protection. Instead, transverse shear is the dominant penetration mechanism. The bre EAP of the polyethylene and PBO bres is therefore not fully utilised. The polyethylene bre prepreg and PBO lm stacked laminates were investigated because of an expected weaker bonding between bres and laminae. The two panels consisting of only carbon bres are made
Table 7 5.46 mm FSP ballistic velocity limits of 6 mm thick laminates with weak bonding between bres and laminae Laminate UDX 75 HB2 prepreg PBO/phenolPVB 10.8% resin PBO/phenolPVB 19.7% resin quasi Quasi Cross-ply Quasi Cross-ply Quasi Cross-ply Ballistic velocity limit (m/s) 491 546 566 606 536 518

Quasi-isotropic lay-up. Cross-ply lay-up.

of fabric from different batches. The difference in ballistic velocity limit between the two batches is of the same order of magnitude as the estimated uncertainty in velocity limit. Table 7 shows the ballistic velocity limits of the ballisticoptimised panels with the elastomer matrix or with a low content of the phenolPVB matrix giving a weaker bonding of individual bres and laminae compared to the rigid epoxy matrix. A signicant improvement of the ballistic velocity limit has been attained with the weaker bonding. In the polyethylene bre case, the change-over to elastomer matrix involved an improved bre quality (see Table 1) but it is not likely that this is the sole reason for the great improvement of the ballistic velocity limit. As expected, PBO/phenolPVB laminates with the lowest resin content (weakest bonding) give the best protection. The results of PBO/phenolPVB laminates with 19.7% resin are contradictory to the other results in Table 7 concerning the effect of bre orientation. However, due to the lack of exact gures for standard deviation of the velocity limits we cannot say if anyone of the orientations is preferable. The results for hybrid bre laminates consisting of 4.5 mm quasi-isotropic carbon/epoxy and 1.5 mm crossply laminates with weakly bonded polyethylene or PBO bres are shown in Table 8. Even in this case, the change from the rigid epoxy matrix has led to an improvement. The improvement in the PBO case with 10.8% phenolPVB resin is not large, probably due to the fact that the adhesive has inltrated the porous PBO composite, thus increasing the bonding between bres and laminae. A bigger improvement might be expected with less adhesive in this case. The introduction of the 5 mm air gap resulted in a signicant reduction of the ballistic velocity limit. Specic ballistic properties of some selected laminates are collated in Table 9. The superiority of the two laminates with a weak bonding between bres and laminae is even more obvious when panel areal weight is taken into consideration. It could be argued that this might be an effect of bre orientation, but as shown in Table 7, this effect is much smaller than changing the type of matrix. The

F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231 Table 9 Ballistic properties of selected 6 mm thick laminates. Ballistic velocity limit, Vl. Ballistic energy limit, El. FSP 5.46 mm. Organic bres at the back Laminate Areal weight (kg/m 2) Vl (m/s) 257 313 324 334 321 276 407 451 461 447 546 606 432 329 c 464 341 El (J) 36.8 54.6 58.6 62.2 57.6 42.5 92.6 113 119 111 166 205 104 69.1 120 72.0 Specic Vl (m 3/kg s) 29.3 38.1 43.1 47.5 50.1 32.5 48.1 55.3 56.2 56.1 91.9 110 53.1 40.5 d 56.6 41.6


Specic El (m 4/s 2) 4.19 6.64 7.78 8.86 8.97 5.01 10.9 13.8 14.5 13.9 28.0 37.2 12.8 8.50 14.6 8.78

Quasi-isotropic carbon/SK66 polyethylene hybrid bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix C 100% 8.78 C 73.3/PE 26.7% 8.22 C 47.8/PE 52.2% 7.53 C 23.4/PE 76.6 7.02 PE 100% 6.42 Quasi-isotropic carbon/PBO hybrid bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix C 100% 8.48 C 73.9/PBO 26.1% 8.46 C46.9/PBO 53.1% 8.16 C 21.6/PbO 78.4% 8.21 PBO 100% 7.97 UDX 75 HB2 prepreg cross-ply 5.94 PBO/phenolPVB 10.8% resin cross-ply 5.51 8.13 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/1.5 mm UDX 75 HB2 prepreg b Rule of mixtures 4.5 mm carbon/epoxy a/1.5 mm PBO/phenolPVB 21.9% resin b 8.20 Rule of mixtures
a b c d

Quasi-isotropic lay-up. Cross-ply lay-up. 4.5257/6 1 1.5546/6 329. 329/8.13 40.5.

superiority of a weak matrix is also to some extent demonstrated by the two laminates with 1.5 mm laminates bonded to the back. Rule of mixtures values for these two laminates have been inserted into Table 9 in the absence of a better basis for assessing the hybrid bre approach. These values have been calculated as the sum of two products between thickness and property value/thickness of the two components (see note in Table 9). This is only approximate because a strict application of the rule of mixtures is restricted to in-plane properties of unidirectional laminates. Ballistic properties of 6 mm thick mono-bre laminates obtained with the 5.46 mm FSP and 6.00 mm ball, respectively, are compared in Table 10. It is clear that for the laminates tested, the specic ballistic velocity limits are about the same for the two different projectiles, while the

specic ballistic energy limits are about 25% less for the ball than for the FSP, due mostly to the lower weight of the ball. 3.2. Damage The investigation of damage size has been concentrated on damage caused by projectiles with velocities equal to or just over the ballistic velocity limit, since projectiles with that velocity cause the largest damage. The delaminated area of carbon bre epoxy laminates was found to have a diameter of about 50 mm, while the damaged area of polyethylene bre and PBO bre epoxy laminates was much larger, at about 100 mm. The damage size of hybrid bre laminates with separated bres and with the organic bres at

Table 10 Comparison of ballistic properties of 6 mm thick mono bre laminates obtained with 5.46 mm FSP and 6.00 mm ball. Ballistic velocity limit, Vl. Ballistic energy limit, El Projectile Areal weight (kg/m 2) Vl (m/s) El (J) 36.8 42.5 33.0 57.6 45.0 112 81.7 Specic Vl (m 3/kg s) 29.3 32.6 31.2 50.6 49.3 56.1 54.7 Specic El (m 4/s 2) 4.19 5.02 3.76 9.07 6.93 14.0 10.4

Quasi-isotropic carbon bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix FSP 8.77 257 FSP 8.48 276 Ball 8.78 274 Quasi-isotropic SK66 polyethylene bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix FSP 6.35 321 Ball 6.49 320 Quasi-isotropic PBO bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix FSP 7.97 447 Ball 7.88 431


F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231

Table 11 Compressive strength s (MPa) and fracture strain e (%) after impact of 6 mm thick laminates with carbon and SK66 polyethylene bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix Fibre distribution Fibre fraction PE% 0 26.7 52.2 76.6 100

Even PE at the front PE at the back 183


122 137 143

0.307 0.448 0.317

85.4 112 125

0.319 0.297 0.254

58.4 62.3 76.4

0.562 0.371 0.284



the back was about 50 mm in the carbon bre reinforced part and about 100 mm in the organic bre reinforced part or in the interface between the two parts of the laminates. On the other hand, with the organic bres in front, the damage size was 4050 mm throughout the entire thickness. This last statement also holds for laminates with even bre distribution. No ultrasonic scanning has been made on laminates with weakly bonded bres. It seems difcult to nd a distinct changeover from damaged to undamaged material in these laminates. By visual inspection we have formed the opinion that damage in these laminates is at least as large as in organic mono-bre laminates with the epoxy matrix. 3.3. Compressive tests after impact The results of compressive tests after impact are collated in Tables 11 and 12. From Table 11 it is clear that a separation of bres, with the PE bres at the back surface, gives the highest residual strength. As stated before, this observation is also valid for ballistic velocity limit. We have not been able to extract any trends from the fracture strain of the carbon/polyethylene hybrid bre tests, Table 11. Compressive strength and fracture strain of carbon/PBO hybrid bre laminates are shown in Table 12. A strength of the PBO bre laminate nearly twice that of the SK66 polyethylene bre laminate can be observed. A common feature of Tables 11 and 12 is that the composites with the approximate bre ratio 50/50 gives a minimum fracture strain when the organic bres are at the back surface. Stressstrain curves of panels with 100% carbon, polyethylene and PBO bre, respectively, are shown in Fig. 6. The strain represents the mean value of the strains measured at the two specimen surfaces. The carbon bre panel shows an almost linear behaviour while the two other panels are highly non-linear. Scatter of the different test cases may be considered as rather low. Specic compressive strength after impact has been calculated for laminates with the organic bre reinforcement at the back, Table 13. 3.4. Normalised specic ballistic velocity limit, energy limit, and compressive strength after impact. In order to make it easier to compare properties of

different laminates, the values of the various properties have been normalised with respect to the value of the respective property of the carbon bre laminates, Table 14. Non-structural laminates are included in the table. The table shows that in most cases there is a net gain in properties,

Fig. 6. Compressive stressstrain curves after impact of mono bre quasiisotropic epoxy laminates.

F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231


such that a loss in normalised specic compressive strength is more than compensated for by an improvement in normalised ballistic properties. The C/epoxy 75%/UDX 75 HB2 25% laminate is extreme in this respect. The laminate has only approximately 20% lower specic compressive

strength than the carbon bre laminate but shows an 82 and 205% improvement in specic ballistic velocity limit and energy limit, respectively. An estimation of (specic) ballistic properties of this laminate by the rule of mixtures gives lower values than those measured, Tables 9 and 14. It

Table 12 Compressive strength s (MPa) and fracture strain e (%) after impact of 6 mm thick laminates with carbon and PBO bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix Fibre distribution Fibre fraction PBO% 0 26.1 53.1 78.4 100

PBO at the back 186










Table 13 Specic compressive strength after impact of 6 mm thick laminates with the organic bre reinforcement at the back. Epoxy matrix Laminate C 100% C 73.3/PE 26.7% C 47.8/PE 52.2% C 23.4/PE 76.6 PE 100% C 100% C 73.9/PBO 26.1% C 46.9/PBO 53.1% C 26.1/PBO 78.4% PBO 100% Density (kg/m 3) 1440 1347 1217 1150 1053 1460 1420 1390 1350 1310 Compressive strength (MPa) 183 143 125 76.4 31.1 186 147 124 100 58.7 Specic compressive strength (m 2/s 2) 127 10 3 106 10 3 97.4 10 3 66.4 10 3 29.5 10 3 127 10 3 104 10 3 89.2 10 3 74.1 10 3 44.8 10 3

Table 14 Normalised values of specic ballistic velocity limit Vl, energy limit El, and compressive strength after impact. Hybrid bre laminates have the organic bres at the back. Laminate thickness 6 mm. FSP 5.46 mm (c and d are normalised against a and b, respectively and e is normalised against the mean values of a and b) Laminate Normalised specic Vl Normalised specic El Normalised specic compressive strength 1.00 0.83 0.77 0.52 0.23 0.80 e

Quasi-isotropic carbon/SK66 polyethylene bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix 1.00 C 100% a C 73.3/PE 26.7% 1.30 C 47.8/PE 52.2% 1.47 C 23.4/PE 76.6 1.62 PE 100% 1.71 C/epoxy 75% f/UDX 75 HB2 25% gc Rule of mixtures c 1.82 1.38

1.00 1.58 1.86 2.11 2.14 3.05 2.03

Quasi-isotropic carbon/PBO bre reinforcement in epoxy matrix 1.00 C 100% b C 73.9/PBO 26.1% 1.48 C 46.9/PBO 53.1% 1.70 C 21.6/PBO 78.4% 1.73 PBO 100% 1.73 C/epoxy 75% f/PBO/phenolPVB 21.9% resin 25% gd Rule of mixtures d UDX 75 HB2 prepreg ge PBO/phenolPVB 10.8% resin ge
f g h

1.00 2.18 2.75 2.89 2.77 2.91 1.75 6.09 8.09

1.00 0.82 0.70 0.58 0.35 0.77 h 0 0

1.74 1.28 2.97 3.56

Quasi-isotropic lay-up. Cross-ply lay-up. Values estimated under the hypothesis of no load carrying capacity of the organic bre reinforced parts of the laminates.


F. Larsson, L. Svensson / Composites: Part A 33 (2002) 221231

Fig. 7. Normalised specic properties of selected laminates.

appears that there is a positive hybrid effect of this combination. The laminates with ballistic-optimised matrices have, of course, even better ballistic properties but they have no load-bearing capacity. Normalised properties of some selected laminates are also shown in Fig. 7. 4. Concluding remarks Separation of bres, with the carbon bres at the front surface is advantageous both for ballistic velocity limit and compression strength after impact. The choice of bres is of primary signicance. In order to utilise the inherent potential of the bres, the matrix should be adapted to take account of the characteristics of the different bres, which means a rigid matrix for the stabilisation of the carbon bres and a weak matrix for the organic bres allowing them to move relative to each other under impact penetration. It is not clear which of the bre orientations investigated (cross-ply and quasi-isotropic) is preferable from a ballistic point of view. The ballistic velocity limit of the laminates with cross-ply lay-up with organic bres was in two out of three cases better than with the quasi-isotropic lay-up. The introduction of organic bres in order to improve ballistic properties has decreased compression strength after impact, but the reduction is more than compensated for by the improvement of ballistic properties. For example, the laminate consisting of 75% quasi-isotropic carbon bre epoxy at the front and 25% cross-ply polyethylene bres in an elastomeric matrix at the back surface has a 20% lower specic compressive strength after impact but 82% higher specic ballistic velocity limit. Estimation of ballistic properties by means of the rule of

mixtures for the best laminates results in lower values than those measured. Whilst acknowledging limitations to the applicability of the rule to the composites investigated it is probable that a positive hybrid effect is obtained. An air gap between the two parts of the laminate results in a substantial reduction of ballistic velocity limit. Ballistic velocity limits of the 5.46 mm FSP and the 6.00 mm ball were approximately the same, despite the 6.00 mm ball being 21% lighter. Fibre distribution and panel orientation are found to have a great effect on the size of delamination area. Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge that about 13 kg PBO bre was donated for this work by Toyobo Co Ltd. Many colleagues both within and outside of the Protection and Materials Department have been involved with information retrieval, manufacturing, testing and preparation of this article. Their contributions are hereby gratefully acknowledged. References
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