Experimental Mechanics

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 595–605 | Cite as

The Efficiency of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene Composite Against Fragment Impact

  • L. H. NguyenEmail author
  • S. Ryan
  • S. J. Cimpoeru
  • A. P. Mouritz
  • A. C. Orifici


This paper presents an experimental investigation into the ballistic resistance of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) composite, and compares its performance against a range of common metallic and composite armour materials. An extensive experimental program was conducted to determine the ballistic limit velocity (V50) of UHMW-PE composite against 12.7 and 20 mm fragment simulating projectiles (FSPs) for a wide range of thicknesses. For protection against these projectiles, UHMW-PE composite was found to be consistently more mass efficient than rolled homogeneous armour steel (RHA), high hardness armour steel (HHA), aluminium alloy 5059-H131, and polymer composites reinforced with aramid, glass or carbon fibres. In terms of armour space claim, UHMW-PE composite was found to be less efficient than both steel types and glass fibre-reinforced plastic, though it was comparable to aramid fibre-reinforced plastic, and was more efficient than aluminium 5059-H131 and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic. Scaling effects were observed that showed metals were more effective against smaller projectiles in terms of armour mass required to stop a given projectile kinetic energy. These effects were not observed to the same extent for UHMW-PE composite, giving rise to a higher UHMW-PE mass efficiency against larger projectiles.


UHMW polyethylene Composite Ballistic impact Mass efficiency Space efficiency 



The work reported herein was funded by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) under the Land Vehicle Survivability Science and Technology Capability (STC). The authors would also like to acknowledge the support of both RMIT University and the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) in providing a PhD scholarship to the lead author. The DMTC was established and is supported by the Australian Government’s Defence Future Capability Technology Centre (DFCTC) initiative.


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Copyright information

© Society for Experimental Mechanics 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. H. Nguyen
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • S. Ryan
    • 2
  • S. J. Cimpoeru
    • 2
  • A. P. Mouritz
    • 1
  • A. C. Orifici
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Defence Science and Technology OrganisationFishermans BendAustralia
  3. 3.Defence Materials Technology CentreHawthornAustralia

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