Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Characterization of 10% Ballistic Gelatin to Evaluate Temperature, Aging and Strain Rate Effects

  • 1128 Accesses

  • 46 Citations


Ballistic gelatin is widely used as a soft tissue simulant in physical surrogates for the human body to evaluate penetrating impacts and, more recently to evaluate blunt impact and blast loading effects on soft tissues. It is known that the properties of gelatin are sensitive to temperature and aging time, but this has not previously been quantified. The mechanical properties of 10% ballistic gelatin were measured using a compression test apparatus with temperature controlled platens to maintain the sample temperature at a fixed level. Penetration testing was undertaken using a standard BB impact test to assess the effect of aging. The gelatin was found to be within calibration after 3 days (72 h of aging), based on the standard penetration test. The material properties were evaluated using the stress at failure, strain at failure and material stiffness as characterized by the Neo-Hookean constitutive model. The stress at failure and material stiffness increased with decreasing temperature and increasing strain rate, as expected, while the strain at failure remained relatively constant for the test conditions considered (1 to 23°C, strain rate from 0.01 to 1.0 s−1). The study showed that the penetration resistance was consistent after 72 h of aging, while the mechanical study demonstrated increasing failure stress and stiffness with decreasing failure strain at longer aging times, suggesting that these effects offset one another so that the penetration resistance remains relatively constant. The primary contribution of this study was to show the importance of temperature and aging time, through mechanical and penetration testing, to achieve appropriate and consistent response from ballistic gelatin.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15


  1. 1.

    Cronin DS, Williams KV, Bass CR, Magnan P, Dosquet F, Bergeron D, van Bree Jan, (2003) Test methods for protective footwear against AP mine blast. NATO Joint AVT-HFM Symposium, Koblenz, Germany, May 19–22, 2003

  2. 2.

    van Bree J, van der Heiden N (1998) Behind armour blunt trauma analysis of compression waves. Personal Armour Systems Symposium 98, Colchester, U.K., September 1998

  3. 3.

    NRL (2004) Gelman Naval Research Laboratory, http://www.nrl.navy.mil/research/nrl-review/2004/materials-science/simmonds/, accessed March 18, 2010

  4. 4.

    Fackler ML, Malinowski JA (1988) Ordnance gelatin for ballistic studies. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 9:218–219

  5. 5.

    Sellier KG, Kneubuehl BP (1994) Wound ballistics and the scientific background. Elsevier, ISBN 0-444-81511-2

  6. 6.

    Jussila J (2004) Preparing ballistic gelatine—review and proposal for a standard method. Forensic Sci Int 141:91–98

  7. 7.

    Fackler ML (1987) What's wrong with wound ballistics literature and why. US Army Medical Research and Development Command

  8. 8.

    VanSligentorst C (2004) High strain rate compressive properties of bovine muscle tissue. MASc Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo

  9. 9.

    van Bree J, van der Heiden N (1996) Behind armour pressure profiles in tissue simulant. Personal Armour Systems Symposium 96, September

  10. 10.

    van Bree J, Fairlie G (1999) Compression wave experimental and numerical studies in gelatine behind armour. 18th International Symposium on Ballistics, San Antonio Texas, November 15–19, 1999

  11. 11.

    Fung Y-C (1993) Biomechanics: mechanical properties of living tissues, 2nd edn. Springer-Verlag, New York

  12. 12.

    Salisbury CP, Cronin DS (2009) Mechanical properties of ballistic gelatin at high deformation rates. Exp Mech 49(6):829–840

  13. 13.

    Caillou JP, Dannawi M, Dubar L, Wielgosz C (1994) Dynamic behaviour of a gelatine 20% material numerical simulation. Personal Armour System Symposium, pp 325–331

  14. 14.

    Kwon J, Subhash G (2010) Compressive strain rate sensitivity of ballistic gelatin. J Biomech 43:420–425

  15. 15.

    Cronin DS, Falzon C (2009) Dynamic characterization and simulation of ballistic gelatin. 2009 SEM Conference & Exposition on Experimental & Applied Mechanics, June 1-4, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  16. 16.

    Cronin DS, Salisbury CP, Horst C (2006) High rate characterization of low impedance materials using a polymeric split Hopkinson pressure bar, 2006 SEM Conference & Exposition on Experimental & Applied Mechanics, June 4-7, St. Louis, Missouri

  17. 17.

    Jusilla J (2005) Wound ballistic simulation: Assessment of the legitimacy of law enforcement firearms ammunition by means of wound ballistic simulation. Thesis, Second Department of Surgery, University of Helsinki, Finland

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to D. S. Cronin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cronin, D.S., Falzon, C. Characterization of 10% Ballistic Gelatin to Evaluate Temperature, Aging and Strain Rate Effects. Exp Mech 51, 1197–1206 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11340-010-9438-z

Download citation


  • Mechanical properties
  • Ballistic gelatin
  • Strain rates
  • Mechanical testing
  • Tissue simulant