Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Thomas Mackin


Finite Element Modeling of Ballistic Impact on a Glass Fiber Composite Armor

Dan Davis

Experiments measuring the ballistic performance of a commercially available fiberglass armor plate were used to guide the development of constitutive laws for a finite element model of the impact. The test samples are commercially available armor panels, made from E-glass fiber reinforced polyester rated to NIJ level III. Quasi-static tensile tests were used to establish material properties of the test panels. These properties were then used to create models in the explicit finite element code LSDYNA.

Ballistic impact testing of the panels was conducted using a compressed gas gun firing spherical steel projectiles oriented normal to the test panel surface. The V50 ballistic limit of these panels was found to be approximately 560 m/s. Tuning parameters in the finite element models were adjusted to match the experimentally measured penetration depths and ballistic limits. Models were created in LSDYNA by adjusting the available material library types 3 and 59 for the target, and material type 15 for the projectile. Type 3 models are isotropic, and resulted in shear punch-out type failures of the plate that poorly replicated the test results. Type 59 takes orthotropic properties into consideration, and can analyze delamination when used with solid elements. Results with model type 59 were significantly better than those using type 3, however, this model was found to vastly underestimate the impact resistance of the plate. With significant adjustments to the material properties in the type 59 model, the LSDYNA simulations were found to better replicate the experimentally observed response of the panels. However, these deformations are questionable since they required quite unrealistic adjustments to the material properties.