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Kevlar and Carbon Composite Body Armor: Analysis and Testing

[+] Author Affiliations
Vanessa S. Berg, Dale S. Preece, Jerome H. Stofleth, Mathew A. Risenmay

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Paper No. PVP2005-71433, pp. 787-795; 9 pages
  • ASME 2005 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 4: Fluid Structure Interaction
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, July 17–21, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4189-8 | eISBN: 0-7918-3763-7
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Kevlar materials make excellent body armor due to their fabric-like flexibility and ultra-high tensile strength. Carbon composites are made up from many layers of carbon AS-4 material impregnated with epoxy. Fiber orientation is bidirectional, orientated at 0° and 90°. They also have ultra-high tensile strength but can be made into relatively hard armor pieces. Once many layers are cut and assembled they can be ergonomicically shaped in a mold during the heated curing process. Kevlar and carbon composites can be used together to produce light and effective body armor. This paper will focus on computer analysis and laboratory testing of a Kevlar/carbon composite cross-section proposed for body armor development. The carbon composite is inserted between layers of Kevlar. The computer analysis was performed with a Lagrangian transversely isotropic material model for both the Kevlar and Carbon Composite. The computer code employed is AUTODYN. Both the computer analysis and laboratory testing utilized different fragments sizes of hardened steel impacting on the armor cross-section. The steel fragments are right-circular cylinders. Laboratory testing was undertaken by firing various sizes of hardened steel fragments at square test coupons of Kevlar layers and heat cured carbon composites. The V50 velocity for the various fragment sizes was determined from the testing. This V50 data can be used to compare the body armor design with other previously designed armor systems. AUTODYN [1] computer simulations of the fragment impacts were compared to the experimental results and used to evaluate and guide the overall design process. This paper will include the detailed transversely isotropic computer simulations of the Kevlar/carbon composite cross-section as well as the experimental results and a comparison between the two. Conclusions will be drawn about the design process and the validity of current computer modeling methods for Kevlar and carbon composites.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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