Thermo-mechanical investigation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene for high strain-rate applications

Advanced polymeric materials, such as ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) are used in lightweight body armour because of their combination of good impact resistance with light weight. However, a broader use of such materials is limited by the complexity and cost of the manufacturing processes and the lack of experimental data on their behaviour and failure evolution under high strain-rate loading conditions. The current study deals with an investigation of the internal heat generation during the tensile testing of UHWMPE and polymer nano-composite blends at various strain rates. A 3D finite element (FE) model of the tensile test is developed and validated with the experimental work. An elastic-plastic material model is used with adiabatic heat generation. The temperature and stresses obtained with the FE analysis are found to be in a good agreement with the experimental results for UHMWPE materials. The model can be used as a simple and cost effective tool to predict the thermo-mechanical behaviour of parts made from these materials under various loading conditions.