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Compression Resistance Testing of Combat Helmets and the Effects on Ballistic Performance

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Technical Report

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Defence R and D Canada -Valcartier Quebec, Quebec Canada

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With the current focus on weight reduction, combat helmets are evolving toward more technologically advanced laminate material systems which happen to have a lower stiffness in comparison with the traditional aramid helmets. Higher ballistic limit resistance- weight ratio have been obtained using Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene UHMWPE fibres and advanced aramid fibre reinforced thermoplastic laminates. However, in both cases, there are concerns about the lower overall rigidity of the resulting helmet shells and the effect this may have on the performance of the helmet over its life cycle. Quantification of helmet stiffness would be valuable to prevent permanent deformation under normal use to a point where safety and operability are compromised. The challenge is to define requirements that ensure soldiers safety for a loading that is representative of what a helmet may experience in day to day training and combat activities. Underestimated requirements can reduce the helmet life cycles and put the soldier at risk. On the other hand, overestimated rigidity requirements can increase helmet weight needlessly and be detrimental to the operational effectiveness of the soldier.

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