High strain rate characteristics of 3-3 metal–ceramic interpenetrating composites

3-3 interpenetrating composites (IPCs) are novel materials with potentially superior multifunctional properties compared with traditional metal matrix composites. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the high strain rate performance of the metal–ceramic IPCs produced using a pressureless infiltration technique through dynamic property testing, viz. the split Hopkinson’s pressure bar (SHPB) technique and depth of penetration (DoP) analysis, and subsequent damage assessment. Though the IPCs contained rigid ceramic struts, the samples plastically deformed with only localised fracture in the ceramic phase following SHPB. Metal was observed to bridge the cracks formed during high strain rate testing, this latter behaviour must have contributed to the structural integrity and performance of the IPCs. Whilst the IPCs were not suitable for resisting high velocity, armour piercing rounds on their own, when bonded to a 3mm thick, dense Al2O3 front face, they caused significant deflection and the depth of penetration was reduced.