Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Tom Mackin


Randomly entangled fibers forming loosely bound nonwoven structures are evaluated for use in lightweight armor applications. These materials sacrifice volumetric efficiency in order to realize a reduction in mass versus traditional armor materials, while maintaining equivalent ballistic performance. The primary material characterized, polyester fiberfill, is shown to have improved ballistic performance over control samples of monolithic polyester as well as 1095 steel sheets. The response of fiberfill is investigated at a variety of strain rates, from quasistatic to ballistic, under compression, tension, and shear deformation to elucidate mechanisms at work during ballistic defeat. Fiberfill’s primary mechanisms during loading are fiber reorientation, fiber unfurling, and frictional sliding. Frictional sliding, coupled with high macroscopic strain to failure, is thought to be the source of the high specific ballistic performance in fiberfill materials. The proposed armor is tested for penetration resistance against spherical and cylindrical 7.62 mm projectiles fired from a gas gun. A constitutive model incorporating the relevant deformation mechanisms of texture evolution and progressive damage is developed and implemented in Abaqus explicit in order to expedite further research on ballistic nonwoven fabrics.