Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 55, Issue 7, pp 3022–3033 | Cite as

The suitability of Synbone® as a tissue analogue in ballistic impacts

  • Bailey J. HenwoodEmail author
  • Gareth Appleby-Thomas
Materials for life sciences


Knowledge of material behaviour under impact is of key importance to understand ballistic impact events on tissue. Bone—with its complex underlying microstructure—is no exception; the microstructural network in bone is not only crucial to its integrity, but also provides a pathway for energy dispersion upon impact (Piekarski in J Appl Phys 41:215–225, 1970). Synbone®, a Swiss-made polyurethane bone simulant, has been considered as a potential bone analogue, particularly for cranial structures (Smith et al. in Leg Med 17(5):427–435, 2015; Riva et al. in Forensic Sci Int 294: 150–159, 2019). This study focused on long bone models and cylinders available from Synbone®, with the aim of determining their efficacy for use in ballistic testing and recreation. Comparisons were made between porcine bone and multiple Synbone® models regarding projectile energy loss and damaged surface area using high-speed video and high-resolution photography. CT and reverse ballistics techniques were also used as diagnostic tools. A significant correlation was made between real bone and Synbone®’s ballistic cylinders in all aspects of this study; however, it was observed that osteoporotic cylinders and anatomical models differ significantly in their reaction to impact. Consequently, the use of Synbone® as a ballistic target simulant—particularly when legal or practical accuracy is essential—will need to be treated carefully, giving due attention to these limitations.



The work contained in this paper was completed within a Master of Science in Forensic Ballistics at Cranfield University by the primary author. The authors would like to express the deepest gratitude to Andy Roberts and Dave Miller for their work with the targets and gas guns, Fiona Brock for her work with the computed tomography and Christine Grey without whom this project would not have come to fruition and also to Rachael Hazael and John Rickman for their insight and support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

10853_2019_4231_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3003 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Defence Engineering, Cranfield Defence and SecurityCranfield University, Defence Academy of The United KingdomShrivenham, SwindonUK

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