Space shield model can help with ballistic fabric testing

Space shield model can help with ballistic fabric testing
The research and advancements of body armor protection keep improving. NASA and the National Institute of Justice don’t commonly work hand in hand on significant issues, but today marks a new day in body armor technology.

It appears that some of the same technology that goes into protecting astronauts may soon be helpful in body armor. Spacecrafts are designed from materials that protect them against space debris. Kevlar is one of the main ingredients in this spacecraft makeup, and it’s also the primary element in most body armor.

A mixture of using a supercomputer and physical experimentation has allowed scientists to conduct experiments to assess a fabric's strength, flexibility, and thermal attributes otherwise called ballistic limit curves.

The supercomputer produces simulations to deal with the physics of impact and yarn fracture as well as data on complex interactions such as what happens to the fragments of a projectile after the initial hit.

Researcher Eric Fahrenthold, professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas in Austin, said "using a hybrid technique for fabric modeling works well,".

He continued "when the fabric barrier is hit at very high velocities, as in spacecraft shielding, it's a shock-type impact and the thermal properties are important as well as the mechanical ones."

Fahrenthold notes that the research is ongoing and the algorithms used to create the curves will have additional benefits across a range of areas in engineering. "This can provide improved tools for engineering design, and allow simulation-based research to contribute in areas where experiments are very difficult to do or very expensive" he stated.