Ballistic penetration analysis of soft laminated composites using sublaminate mesoscale modeling

Raz Chricker, Shaul Mustacchi, Eyass Massarwa, Rami Eliasi, Jacob Aboudi, Rami Haj-Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ballistic impact mitigation requires the development of protective armor applications from composite material systems with good energy absorption and penetration resistance against threats, e.g., metallic projectiles. In this aim, high-strength and high-stiffness soft fibrous composite materials (such as ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene—UHMWPE) are often used. The high specific strength feature is one of the main reasons for using these soft composite systems in ballistic impact applications. In the present investigation, experimental and computational finite element (FE) studies were carried out to investigate the ballistic behaviors of these soft layered composite targets. To this end, a new FE multi-scale analysis framework for ballistic simulations is offered. The proposed analysis presents a new meso-scale sublaminate material model, which is applied to Dyneema® cross-ply laminate in order to predict its behavior under ballistic impact. The sublaminate model is implemented within an explicit dynamic FE code to simulate the continuum response in each element. The sublaminate model assumes a through-thickness periodic stacking of repeated cross-ply configuration. In addition, a cohesive layer is introduced in the sublaminate model in order to simulate the delamination effect leading to the subsequent degradation and deletion of the elements. This new approach eliminates the widely used costly computational approach of using explicit cohesive elements installed at pre-specified potential delamination paths between the layers. Furthermore, in-plane damage modes (such as fiber tensile, and out-of-plane shearing) are also accounted for by employing failure criteria and strain-softening. The obtained quantitative results of ballistic impact simulations show good correlation when compared to a relatively wide range of experiments. Moreover, the simulations include evidence of capturing the main energy absorption mechanisms under high-velocity impact. The proposed modeling approach can be used as a useful armor design tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalJournal of Composites Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Ballistic experiments
  • Delamination
  • Finite element analysis
  • Impact behavior
  • Layered structures


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