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High Speed Thermal Imaging on Ballistic Impact of Triaxially Braided Composites



Ballistic impact experiments were performed on triaxially braided polymer matrix composites to study the heat generated in the material due to projectile velocity and penetration damage. Quantifying the heat generation phenomenon is crucial for attaining a better understanding of composite behavior and failure under impact loading. The knowledge gained can also be used to improve physics-based models which can numerically simulate impact of composites. Triaxially braided (0/+60/-60) composite panels were manufactured with T700S standard modulus carbon fiber and two epoxy resins. The PR520 (toughened) and 3502 (untoughened) resin systems were used to make different panels to study the effects of resin properties on temperature rise. Ballistic impact tests were conducted on these composite panels using a gas gun, and different projectile velocities were applied to study the effect on the temperature results. Temperature contours were obtained from the rear surface of the panel during the test through a high speed, infrared (IR) thermal imaging system. The contours show that high temperatures were locally generated and more pronounced along the axial tows for the T700S/PR520 composite specimens; whereas, tests performed on T700S/3502 composite panels using similar impact velocities demonstrated a widespread area of lower temperature rises. Nondestructive, ultrasonic C-scan analyses were performed to observe and verify the failure patterns in the impacted panels. Overall, the impact experimentation showed temperatures exceeding 525 K (485°F) in both composites which is well above the respective glass transition temperatures for the polymer constituents. This expresses the need for further high strain rate testing and measurement of the temperature and deformation fields to fully understand the complex behavior and failure of the material in order to improve the confidence in designing aerospace components with these materials.

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