Numerical investigation of the impact behaviour of bioinspired nacre-like aluminium composite plates

31 March 2014

Inspired by the hierarchical structure of nacre, an aluminium alloy (AA) 7075 based composite featuring layer waviness and cohesive interface is studied as a low weight impact resistant material. To investigate the mechanical response and the ballistic performance of this laminated structure, a numerical study of the proposed nacre-like composite plates made of 1.1-mm thick AA 7075 tablets bonded with toughened epoxy resin was performed using Abaqus/Explicit. Target thicknesses of 5.4-mm, 7.5-mm and 9.6-mm impacted by a rigid hemi-spherical projectile were simulated. The epoxy material was modelled using a user-defined interface cohesive element with compressive strength enhancement. A significant performance improvement was recorded for the 5.4-mm nacre-like plate (compared to the same thickness bulk plate), which was explained by the hierarchical structure facilitating both localised energy absorption (by deformation of the tablet) and more globalized energy absorption (by inter-layered delamination and friction). For a given projectile, however, the performance improvement of using the proposed composite decreased with increasing laminate thickness, which was attributed to the increased likelihood of ductile failure occurring prior to perforation in thicker bulk plates. For 5.4-mm thick plates impacted at high velocity, the nacre-like plate had a better ballistic performance than that of the plates made of continuous (flat and wavy) layers, which was attributed to the larger area of plastic deformation (observed in the nacre-like plate after impact) due to the tablets arrangement.