International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 19–25 | Cite as

A study considering the force required for broken glass bottles to penetrate a skin simulant

  • Gary Nolan
  • Simon Lawes
  • Sarah Hainsworth
  • Guy RuttyEmail author
Original Article


Injuries and assaults related to alcohol consumption are a growing concern in many countries. In such cases, the use of impulsive weapons, an object from the immediate environment, such as a glass bottle, is not uncommon. This current study utilises a material testing system to measure the force required to push a broken glass bottle into a skin simulant with the displacement of the bottle into the skin simulant being recorded simultaneously, using a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT). From this data, load versus displacement plots were produced. Multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) was also used to analyse bottle wall thickness to determine if a relationship could be found between force required for penetration and bottle wall thickness. The forces required for the penetration of the skin simulant ranged from 9.8 to 56.7 N. The range was found to be independent of bottle type with the variation in force for penetration being attributed to the varying fracture points, with some fractures presenting a sharper point on first contact with the skin. Although the dangers associated with the use of broken bottles as weapons is apparent, there is a paucity of information in this area in the current English literature, which this study has addressed. The results of this study also highlight the risks of attempting reconstructions of broken bottle stab events.


Forensic Glass Bottle Force Assault Stab Computed tomography 



Ms. C. Robinson, Mr. B. Kirkland, Mr. G. Clark and Ms. A. Brough are thanked for their technical assistance with the experimentation.

Conflict of interest



  1. 1.
    Brennan IR, Moore SC (2009) Weapons and violence: a review of theory and research. Aggress Violent Behav 14:215–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Saukko P, Knight B (2004) The pathology of wounds: incised wounds. In: Saukko P, Knight B (eds) Knight’s forensic pathology, 3rd edn. Arnold, London, pp 155–166Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Coomaraswamy KS, Shepherd JP (2003) Predictors and severity of injury in assaults with barglasses and bottles. Inj Prev 9:81–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Warburton AL, Shepherd JP (2000) Effectiveness of toughened glassware in terms of reducing injury in bars: A randomised controlled trial. Inj Prev 6:36–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shepherd JP, Huggett RH, Kidner G (1993) Impact resistance of bar glasses. J Trauma 35:936–938PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jussila J, Leppäniemi A, Paronen M, Kulomäki E (2005) Ballistic skin simulant. Forensic Sci Int 150:63–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shergold OA, Fleck NA (2005) Experimental investigation into the deep penetration of soft solids by sharp and blunt punches, with application to the piercing of skin. J Biomech Eng 127:838–848PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shergold OA, Fleck NA, Radford D (2006) The uniaxial stress versus strain response of pig skin and silicone rubber at low and high strain rates. Int J Impact Eng 32:1384–1402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hainsworth SV, Delaney RJ, Rutty GN (2008) How sharp is sharp? Towards quantification of the sharpness and penetration ability of kitchen knives used in stabbings. Int J Leg Med 122:281–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Whittle K, Kieser J, Ichim I, Swain M, Waddell N, Livingstone V, Taylor M (2008) The biomechanical modelling of non-ballistic skin wounding: blunt-force injury. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 4:33–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chadwick EKJ, Nicol AC, Lane JV, Gray TGF (1999) Biomechanics of knife stab attacks. Forensic Sci Int 105:35–44PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    O’Callaghan PT, Jones MD, James DS, Leadbeatter S, Evans SL, Nokes LDM (2001) A biomechanical reconstruction of a wound caused by a glass shard—a case report. Forensic Sci Int 117:221–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    O’Callaghan PT, Jones MD, James DS, Leadbeatter S, Holt CA, Nokes LDM (1999) Dynamics of stab wounds: force required for penetration of various cadaveric human tissues. Forensic Sci Int 104:173–178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wong B, Kieser JA, Ichim I, Swain M, Livingstone V, Waddell N, Taylor M (2008) Experimental simulation of non-ballistic wounding by sharp and blunt punches. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 4:212–220PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ankersen J (1999) Puncture resistance and tensile strength of skin simulants. Proc IME H J Eng Med 213:493–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Doran CF, McCormack BAO, Macey A (2004) A simplified model to determine the contribution of strain energy in the failure process of thin biological membranes during cutting. Strain 40:173–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    McCarthy CT, Hussey M, Gilchrist MD (2007) On the sharpness of straight edge blades in cutting soft solids: part I—indentation experiments. Eng Fract Mech 74:2205–2224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jarosz J (1999) A broken bottle (’a tulip’) as a crime tool. Z Zagadnien Nauk Sadowych 40:141–155Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tabor D (2000) The hardness of metals. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hainsworth SV, McGurk MR, Page TF (1998) The effect of coating cracking on the indentation response of thin hard-coated systems. Surf Coat Technol 102:97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Madea B, Schmidt PT, Lignitz E, Padosch SA (2005) 2 Skull injuries caused by blows with glass bottles. In: Tsokos M (ed) Forensic pathology reviews volume 2. Human Press Inc, New Jersey, pp 27–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bolliger SA, Ross S, Oesterhelweg L, Thali MJ, Kneubuehl BP (2009) Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull? J Forensic Leg Med 16:138–142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Daniels R (2007) Bottles, kegs and cans the glory & ruin of beer 2010:1. doi: Accessed 6 October 2010
  24. 24.
    Preston FW (1939) Bottle breakage—causes and types of fractures. Am Ceram Soc Bull 18(2):35–60Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Blyth A (2009) Drinks industry calls time on CO2. Packaging News:9Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    DiMaio VJ, DiMaio D (2001) Forensic Pathology, 2nd edn. CRC Press, London, pp 148–150Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Madea B, Lignitz E (2009) ’A response to "S.A. bolliger, S. ross, L. oesterhelweg, M.J. thali, B.P. kneubuehl, are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?"[J Forensic Leg Med 16 (2009) 138142]. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 16:432PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Knight B (1975) The dynamics of stab wounds. Forensic Sci 6:249–255PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Green MA (1978) Stab wound dynamics: a recording technique for use in medico-legal investigations. J Forensic Sci Soc 18:161–163PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Forsyth AJM (2008) Banning glassware from nightclubs in glasgow (scotland): observed impacts, compliance and patron’s views. Alcohol Alcohol 43:111–117PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Nolan
    • 1
  • Simon Lawes
    • 1
  • Sarah Hainsworth
    • 1
  • Guy Rutty
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EngineeringUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.East Midlands Forensic Pathology UnitUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations