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Computational Science, Engineering & Technology Series
ISSN 1759-3158
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping, J.M. Adam, F.J. Pallarés, R. Bru and M.L. Romero
Chapter 10

Designing Lightweight Armours for the Future

L. Iannucci

Full Bibliographic Reference for this chapter
L. Iannucci, "Designing Lightweight Armours for the Future", in B.H.V. Topping, J.M. Adam, F.J. Pallarés, R. Bru and M.L. Romero, (Editors), "Developments and Applications in Computational Structures Technology", Saxe-Coburg Publications, Stirlingshire, UK, Chapter 10, pp 245-268, 2010. doi:10.4203/csets.25.10
Keywords: armour, impact, high performance fibres, finite element modelling.

Improving combat survivability is the most important aspect of military technology. This is also becoming a significant design issue in civilian applications due to the increased threat of terrorist activity which has highlighted the vulnerability of vital infrastructure. The emergence of new and increasingly severe threats requires an evolutionary change in the techniques used to understand and design against these threats.

In recent years a large number of new high performance polymer fibres have been developed, which include Aramid fibres, polyethylene fibres and polypropylene fibres. The design of novel high performance composite protective systems using these new fibres, and ultimately composite components to withstand severe loadings is conceptually a difficult task for the designer using current technologies. Clearly novel combinations of fibres, architecture and geometrical configurations could yield improvements, however, without the development of robust virtual modelling techniques covering all scales, from the nano and atomic scales using molecular modelling, through to the macro scale using finite element and meshless methods, a fundamental understanding of the ‘best’ protective system always will be lacking.

In this chapter a review of lightweight composite armour developments and current trends in design and modelling are examained. The use of hybridisation at fibre and ply levels in which each material type has a specific functional use associated with the position within the lightweight armour appears to be the most interesting trend. This includes the use of nanocomposites. However, their processing for mass-production into a realistic lightweight armour still requires development. To maximise the benefits of hybridisation a modelling strategy is also required which links the behaviour of all scales, but especially the mesoscale to the macroscale, and would allow modelling of high velocity impact events on lightweight composites fabricated from high performance fibres.

It has been widely recognised that the advent of multiscale modelling, which encompasses the full range of length and time scales, will be an important factor in the future design and testing of novel materials. Modelling the performance at various scales (nano, micro, meso, macro) and integrating them into a unified, multi-scale modelling approach appears to be the future trend. Combined with new computational techniques for modelling behaviour, these technologies have incredible potential for accelerating the development of new lightweight composite materials; their application not been solely restricted to novel armour design.

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