THE DYNAMIC BEHAVIOUR OF BALLISTIC SOAP

Christopher J. Shepherd1, James M. Wilgeroth1, Gareth J. Appleby-Thomas1,
Paul J. Hazell1 and Derek F. Allsop1
1

Cranfield Defence and Security, Cranfield University, Shrivenham, Swindon, SN6 8LA, UK

E-mail: c.shepherd@cranfield.ac.uk

Abstract. Ballistic soap is used as a simulant to observe the effect of a projectile
penetrating soft tissue; consequently information on its behaviour at high strain-rates
is desirable. The Hugoniot equation-of-state for soap has been determined using the
plate-impact technique at impact velocities of 81-967 m/s. The US-uP Hugoniot was
linear, taking the form US = 1.99 + 2.04uP (ρ0 = 1.107 g/cc). In P-uP space the
Hugoniot was observed to trend substantially above the predicted hydrodynamic
response for Hugoniot stresses greater than 1.2 GPa, indicative of material
strengthening. The lateral-stress response of soap was interrogated using embedded
lateral manganin stress gauges. Gradients observed behind the shock for σx > 1 GPa
appeared to suggest continuation of the previously observed strengthening
mechanism. It is proposed at higher values of σx, increased compression of
hydrocarbon chains acts to increase the materials resistance to shear, a phenomenon
known as steric hindrance.

INTRODUCTION
Ballistic soap is a soft tissue simulant commonly used when considering the passage
of projectiles through the human body. The response of this material to impact causes plastic
deformation around the wound channel. Such plastic deformation closely resembles the
maximum extent of the temporary cavity expected whilst performing trials on gelatin or
animal tissue. Experimental trials are, however, relatively time and resource intensive.
Consequently, simulations that allow rationalisation of the extent and scope of such trials are
a useful tool. Previous studies on soap have concentrated on numerical simulations to
ascertain relationships between penetration depths or cavity volumes and the impact
velocity/energy [1,2]. Where computer simulations are employed the provision of accurate
material models becomes extremely important. Impact phenomena typically occur at such
high strain-rates that the hydrostatic component of stress exceeds the material’s flow strength,
resulting in hydrodynamic (e.g. fluid-like) behaviour [3]. The material properties of soap
were estimated with varied success by Dyckmans et al. [4] whilst simulating penetrations
with hydrocode models to fit experimental data. Interestingly, particular difficulty was
encountered in the simulation of material behaviour during high (>900 m/s) and low (<370
m/s) velocity impacts. With the exception of this study, there appears to be a relative paucity
of data on the behaviour of ballistic soap at the strain-rates likely to be encountered during
ballistic-impact in the literature.

001 1. of the soap was measured using a Micrometrics AccuPyc 1330 gas pycnometer. Elastic properties of ballistic soap. This paper discusses the use of the plate-impact technique to derive an equation-ofstate for ballistic soap. the value for the Poisson’s ratio of soap is assumed to lie between that of soft tissues and that of typical engineering materials such as steels and rigid polymers (ν ~ 0. EXPERIMENTAL TECHNIQUE Elastic properties The longitudinal and shear wave velocities for soap were investigated in the pulseecho configuration using a Panametrics 5077R pulse receiver. calculated lateral stress magnitudes proved relatively insensitive to this range of values. A summary of the elastic properties for ballistic soap are shown in Table 1.5. As discussed.4 for ν has been chosen for this work. while the latter provided an insight into the evolution of the materials shear strength under shock loading. Both longitudinal and lateral manganin stress gauges have been employed.673 0. soap is meant to mimic the response of soft tissues to ballistic impact. although it exhibits a predominantly plastic response compared to the more elastic reaction seen in tissues.12] was used to impact ballistic soap targets at velocities in the range 81-960 m/s. ρ0 (g/cm3) cL (mm/μs) cS (mm/μs) ν 1.The chemical structure of ballistic soap typically evolves from the interaction of soluble sodium or potassium salts of carboxylic acids formed from the hydrolysis of fats by a strong base.11.3 [10]).0.4 (estimated) Longitudinal gauges The plate-impact technique [3. Consequently. 5-m barrel single-stage gas gun [13]. it was not possible to detect a shear wave passing through the material using our equipment. for this work. This prevented direct calculation of a value of Poisson’s ratio. ρ0. The density. However. Material Ballistic soap Table 1. previous work [9] has shown that soft tissues typically posses values of Poisson’s ratio of c. the former allowed derivation of Hugoniot equations-of-state in the US-uP and P-uP planes. The glycerine that is formed as a bi-product of this reaction also remains in the structure (this is generally removed in commercial soaps). Care was taken to ensure that all surfaces perpendicular to the impact axis were finished to a surface roughness as close as possible to 10-μm or less. . Experiments were conducted using a ∅50-mm bore. ν. aliphatic hydrocarbon chains are typically responsible for the dissolution of oils and greases in the soaps normal function as a cleaning product [5]. Unfortunately. These long. Usefully. To this end.107 ± 0. for the soap – an important property in the approach to interpretation of lateral gauges employed here [6-8]. a value of 0. when combined with a suitable strength model such information would allow modelling of impact events using hydrocodes.

with subsequent analysis following the impedance matching technique [3. itself packaged within 25-μm thick insulating Mylar. The ballistic soap target material was carefully cast. with the final target material/ring thickness carefully measured before subsequent target package assembly. 1(a) with both the cover plate and backing PMMA.11.1-mm thick cover plates. Schematic illustration of the setup for a longitudinal gauge experiment on a ballistic soap target: (a) an exploded gauge assembly using a 1-mm cover plate of either Al or Cu and a 12-mm PMMA backing block. 1(b). [11]. . PMMA was employed for this role due to its relatively low impedance and well understood physical properties under shock loading. shown in exploded view in Fig. was undertaken using a specially constructed clamping jig and a slow curing Loctite 0151 HYSOL® Epoxi-Patch® Adhesive. A typical experimental arrangement schematically illustrating the assembled target package in-situ at the muzzle end of the gas-gun is shown in Fig. A similar arrangement was employed behind the target. (b) a typical plate-impact experimental setup as viewed in the target chamber of the gas gun. by melting and re-setting into c. with 12-mm thick PMMA plates chosen as a backing material to support the rear surface gauge.11. This ensured flat/parallel front faces.12].4-mm thick cups made of aluminium rings fronted by c. manufactured by Vishay Micro-Measurements® & SR4®. The back surface of the as-cast material was then ground using SiC paper of decreasing grit size to the same level as the containing Al ring. The afore-mentioned cover plates were comprised of a material chosen according to the impedance matching technique [3. This assembly was attached to a sacrificial barrel extension which incorporated a series of precisely-spaced conducting pins designed to be sequentially shorted by the projectile. on the inside face.12]. These three elements were then assembled into the main target package illustrated schematically in Fig. Gauge assembly. 1(a) using a suitable fast-setting epoxy and an appropriate clamping arrangement.Sealed gun/barrel section 25μmMylar Velocity pin block Cover plate Ballistic soap Barrel PMMA Sabot Flyer plate Cover plate Sample ring Gauge 1 (a) Target ring PMMA Soap Gauge 2 (b) Trigger pins Gauge assemblies Figure 1. Targets were assembled with a manganin stress gauge of type LM-SS-125CH-048. The target package was adhered to a mounting ring containing trigger pins which allowed activation of the recording 1 Gs oscilloscope just prior to impact. Gauge calibration followed Rosenberg et al. thus providing a record of the projectile velocity immediately prior to impact.

Lateral gauges Lateral gauges are. as their name suggests. and developed from recent in-house work by one of the authors. designed to monitor stress evolution perpendicular to the loading axis. (2) preparation of a lateral gauge package. was employed. This necessitates encapsulation of the lateral gauge within the material flow of the target.5-mm from the front edge of the ring as shown in Fig.5-5. a lateral gauge is encapsulated in Mylar and positioned in the centre of a sample that has been sectioned orthogonally to the impact face. using slow-cure epoxy. (3) adhesion of the pre-assembled lateral gauge packet between the two mounting-ring halves such that the front edge of the packet was secured 4. However. The nature of the lateral gauge means that the required position and orientation of the gauge within the ballistic soap sample is different to that for a longitudinal setup. low hardness means that ballistic soap cannot be easily sectioned to a suitable tolerance. 2. Exploded view of a lateral gauge packet positioned across a sectioned mounting ring. To this end a modified technique based on previous work by Millett et al. In more standard engineering materials. this technique has the advantage of eliminating the chance of modification of the shock front that may occur during transit through any air-filled gaps in sectioned target samples [15-17]. This approach involved suspension of a stiffened gauge element held perpendicular to the impact face. Subsequent analysis was based Impact face 4. and.5-mm from the impact face.5-5. [14]. with the gaugeelement positioned flush with the end of the Mylar to minimise any effects on subsequent gauge response. with target material subsequently cast around the gauge. with all applicable faces finished to tolerance of 5-μm. involving encapsulation using slow-curing epoxy within two layers of 50 μm Mylar. Further. As before. with the gauge element adjacent to the edge of the encapsulation and positioned 4. Preparation of the target involved: (1) sectioning of an aluminium mounting ring. a cover plate was added to the impact face of the of the target ring to act as a flat surface to cast the ballistic soap against and also to aid in shock wave transmission upon impact. The gauge is encapsulated within two pieces of 50μm Mylar.5mm 50μm Mylar 4. . The soap was melted and re-cast into the cup and the whole target array was attached to a mounting ring and barrel extension as described for the longitudinal gauges.5mm Sectioned target ring Lateral gauge Gauge packet Figure 2.5 to 5.5 to 5.

11 196 Al 10 0. A small difference in the absolute Hugoniot stresses (less than 5%) for each gauge is apparent in Fig. However.54 3.43 on a modified form of the impedance matching technique. e.11. This equation is primarily designed to deal with elastic systems. A summary of the results obtained from these experiments is shown in Table 2. the comparatively small rise times observed here suggested good target alignment.74 960 Cu 5 0. leading to longer ring-up times.18 652 Cu 5 0. 3 has been converted from the response of the PMMA backing plate using eqn. 6 of which included longitudinal gauges and 4 with lateral gauges only. This means that errors in both measured stress and calculated shock will influence its application.757 3. The rear-surface trace shown in Fig.g.51 - 652 Cu 5 - - 2. with ρ0 equal to the material density and US the shock velocity in the material based on the shock transit time.91 1.35 0.22 - 525 Cu 10 0. vimpact (m/s) Flyer material Flyer thickness (mm) uP (mm/μs) US (mm/μs) σx (GPa) σy (GPa) 81 Al 10 0. in the direction of the propagating shock. 3) as well as the measured Hugoniot stress in that material. previously developed by Rosenburg and Partom [6]. In addition. Summary of experimental results. In addition. the approach took account of both manganin’s elastic-plastic behaviour [7] and the pressure-dependant nature of manganin’s response below its elastic limit [8].377 2.15 - 191 Cu 10 - - 0. Longitudinal gauges measure the response of the material ahead of them. Typical front and rear longitudinal gauge traces from a plate-impact experiment where a ballistic soap target has been impacted with a copper flyer at 534 m/s are presented in Fig.158 2.83 1.18].12]. whereas the back gauge will measure the stress in the PMMA.51 - 409 Cu 10 0. the front gauge shows the response inside the soap sample.19 (estimated) 3.99 - 967 Cu 5 - - 4.78 2. 1.481 2. Z. Δt in Fig. however it has been widely applied in interpretation of stress gauge results [12. This suggests good gauge alignment.Table 2.51 1.72 1.061 2.07 0. 1 depends on the impedance of each material. Initial rises (a) up to an effectively constant Hugoniot stress plateau (b) occur within 100 ns for each gauge. (where Z =ρ0US.601 2. the relatively . The stress data has been calculated from the voltages passing through the gauges during the impact event in accordance with the impedance matching technique [3. poor alignment would increase the component of the gauge thickness available for the shock to ring-up within. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION A total of 10 shots ranging in impact velocity from 81 to 967 m/s were conducted with ballistic soap targets. 3.46 (estimated) 0. Eqn. 3.72 - 526 Cu 10 - - 1.

1. These errors are typically small and as a result.99 and 2. All errors associated with the calculation of the US-uP Hugoniot for soap come from measured uncertainty in the shock arrival times. Finally. For the range of data points investigated.20]. whereby ringing occurs following shock wave reflection at the interface of the low impedance soap and the higher impedance PMMA. (see (a) in Fig. Front/rear gauges traces generated following impact of a 10-mm thick Cu flyer at 524 m/s onto a 4. many of the error bars fall within the data points plotted. σ Soap = 1 (Z Soap + Z PMMA ) σ PMMA Z PMMA 2 (1) At point (c) in Fig.Figure 3. 4. the Hugoniot takes on a linear relationship of the form US = c0 + SuP. good agreement between measured front surface and recalibrated back surface Hugoniot stresses of just c. The experimental data and resultant Hugoniot relationship for ballistic soap is presented in Fig. 3 reloading of the soap occurs after it has reached the Hugoniot stress.04 for soap respectively. another common tissue simulant for ballistic testing applications. c0 and S are found to equal 1. As shown in Fig.5mm thick soap target following the setup shown in Fig. 3) and were based on the earliest and latest possible times that the shocks were picked up by the pressure gauges.5% appears to justify the use of this equation here. 4. The Hugoniot relationships for gelatin. with the gauges ultimately failing at (e). an elastic release (d) is observed. a commercially . This phenomenon can be attributed to shock reverberation [19. where ‘c0’ is the intercept with the y-axis (often equivalent to the bulk sound speed) and ‘S’ is the gradient. and RTM 6.

The Hugoniot becomes more linear once these covalent bonds are also broken following higher impact pressures. 4 2 2 c0 = c L − c S 3 (2) Fig.2 0. this value is significantly lower than the soap Hugoniot US intercept observed of 1.57 + 1. c0 of the material being tested.5 0.65 + 1.77uP Soap Hugoniot 1 Gelatin Hugoniot [21] RTM 6 Hugoniot [18] 0 0 0. whilst the far stronger covalent intramolecular bonds remain intact.55uP US = 1.1 0. while gelatin effectively acts hydrodynamically.67 mm/μs. Gelatin [21] and RTM 6 [18].7 0.04uP US (mm/μs) 3 2 Experimental data. It therefore seems likely that the US-uP Hugoniot for soap exhibits a degree of nonlinearity at low particle velocities.4 0.99. 5 shows the measured σx-uP data for ballistic soap alongside the theoretical hydrodynamic response based on eqn.6 0. These two comparative materials have been shown to exhibit different types of behaviour under shock loading. Soap US = 1.8 uP (mm/μs) Figure 4.99 + 2. It is noted above that the intercept of the Hugoniot in US-uP space typically occurs at the bulk sound speed. namely 1. a phenomenon that has previously been observed in epoxy resins [22]. From the well know relationship shown in eqn. it is clear that the maximum value that c0 can take is that of cL. 2. Over the range of impact velocities investigated here. Munson and May [22] propose that a curvature in the Hugoniot at low impact stresses is due to the disruption of the weak intermolecular Van der Waals forces between hydrocarbon chains. RTM 6 exhibits a degree of strain-rate dependent behaviour. However.3 0. (3) (where P is the hydrodynamic pressure and ρ0 is .4 US = 2. the Hugoniot for soap is shown to be linear in nature. important polymeric material (a mono-component epoxy resin) are also included for the purpose of comparison. US-uP Hugoniot relationships for Soap.

It is observed that at low particle velocities.4 mm/μs (σx > 1. (3).4 0.8 uP (mm/μs) Figure 5.3 0. Such a relationship has been observed elsewhere in polymers such as RTM 6 and polyethylene [18. the density). the experimental data clearly trends above the hydrodynamic response of soap in a manner such that the higher the value of uP. hydrodynamic curve is based on eqn. σx (GPa) 3 2 1 0 0 0.2 0. (4). the larger the observed deviation. where uP < 0. P = ρ0US uP (3) For uP > 0.4 Experimental data. fluid-like and strength-based). The longitudinal stress measured using manganin gauges employed here has two components – hydrostatic and deviatoric (e. the soap acts hydrodynamically with data points effectively sitting in unison with the theoretical hydrodynamic response curve.23]. The relationship between these two elements can be represented by eqn. Soap Hydrodynamic response.6 0. With these materials. Soap Stress.7 0.g.1 0. where P is the hydrostatic pressure and τMAX is the maximum shear strength of the resin. σx = P + 43 τMAX (4) .5 0.4 mm/μs. σx-uP Hugoniot relationship for soap showing deviation away from the hydrodynamic response with increased particle velocity. this behaviour has been linked to the two-phase nature of stress.2 GPa). although it is interesting to note that the deviations for soap appear to be more pronounced at higher particle velocities than behaviour observed elsewhere for other materials.

in each case with shock arrival reset to occur at 1μs for clarity. The lateral gauge rise times are observed to be significantly slower than those seen in the longitudinal analyses. Nevertheless.1. Table 2 also shows the results of 4 shots at targets with embedded lateral gauges. The resultant calibrated gauge traces are shown in Fig. 5 may be attributed to the deviatoric component of the longitudinal stress.2 GPa [14]. from eqn. these have been derived from the known Hugoniot relationships for soap shown in Figs. 6. Essentially. Such an apparent increase in the magnitude of this component of stress with impact pressure/strain-rate has previously been linked to changes of microstructure in polymers [23]. the strengthless element of longitudinal stress – P) in Fig.g. these rise times are sufficiently fast so-as to give confidence that minimal misalignment occurred and that resultant calculated stress values are reasonably accurate.Figure 6. The associated longitudinal stresses for the given impact velocity are also displayed. Where estimated values for σx are stated. Consequently. 4 and 5. a phenomenon that could also apply to the longchain ballistic soap under discussion. This is largely attributed to the extended nature of the lateral gauges and the resultant difficulty in ensuring gauges were mounted perpendicular to the impact axis. Lateral pressure gauge traces for 4 shots impacting ballistic soap targets at velocities between 191 and 967 m/s. As well as longitudinal data. (4) it is apparent that the deviation from the hydrodynamic response (e. typically 100-200 ns in duration. the mechanisms discussed in [23] would suggest that the long hydrocarbon molecules that make up a large proportion of the soap structure are being compressed to a greater extent at higher particle velocities/impact stresses. The gradient of the initial ramp-up to the peak stress is observed to increase with impact stress – indicative of faster ring-up within the manganin gauges under increased pressure rather than being a function of the soap . with steric hindrance likely leading to a resultant increase in the maximum shear strength of the material for impact stresses above c.

the greater the effect of the mechanism acting to cause the observed strengthening (whatever that mechanism may be). or alternatively. Errors associated with these calculations come from the range of possible start and finish times and the maximum and minimum 0. in this case the larger the gradient in σy behind the shock. implying either a gauge ring-up based phenomenon. However. Comparison of the variation in measured lateral stress gradients with impact stresses behind the shock front for ballistic soap. the exact cause of this behaviour remains unclear.40 0. whereby an overshoot occurs before the gauge outputs a constant gradient behind the shock front. This overshoot is observed to become less severe with increased impact stress.60 Measured lateral stress gradient. 6 that the gradient of the trace behind the shock increases in magnitude with increased impact/longitudinal stress.σy 2 (5) The gradients behind the shock front have been measured for each trace between a point (a). a pressure-dependant material response. of the soap can be related to the two orthogonal stresses. τ= σx .0 5. thereby allowing the evolution of shear strength to be tracked with time. A feature is noticeable at the top of each rise. a decrease in the value of σy behind the shock front will lead to an increase in shear strength and vice-versa.20 0.itself. In other words.50 -ΔσY/Δt (GPa/μs) RTM 6 [17] 0. From eqn. 6. shown in Fig. which is positioned directly after the aforementioned artefact occurring at the top of each initial ring up.0 σx (GPa) Figure 7. assuming a constant Hugoniot stress. It is highly apparent from Fig. (5). The shear strength. RTM 6 [18] and another epoxy resin [23].30 0.0 3.10 0. Soap Epoxy resin [23] 0. which is valid for instantaneous stress measurements and not just the maximums. τ.0 4.0 1.0 2. (5) it is apparent that. .00 0. σx and σy by eqn. and a point (b) immediately prior to the release (or apparent reloading as is seen on 526 m/s shot).

Fig. 7 illustrates the change in gradient with impact stress. hardening the soap more readily than the cross-linked structures observed in the epoxy resins in question. with the simpler soap molecules hardening more readily than the highly cross-linked epoxies. The lateral gauge data presented here demonstrates a significant increase in the gradients (-Δσy/Δt) observed behind the shock front with increased values of σx. It is also interesting to note that a significant gradient behind the shock only becomes apparent for soap where σx > 1 GPa.2 GPa). equivalent to impact pressures of 0. This is in good correlation with the earlier observation from Fig. resulting from compression of the aliphatic hydrocarbon chains impeding material flow/increasing shear strength – a phenomenon known as steric hindrance. This enhanced response was attributed to the long. Hugoniot stress values above this threshold departed to an increasing extent from the hydrodynamic response. and following shock arrival. plotting -Δσy/Δt (the negative allows the gradient to take positive values for clarity of presentation) against σx. This suggests that the soap is much more sensitive to high impact stress/strain-rate than the two epoxies considered. although a possible degree of nonlinearity at low values of uP was suggested owing to the fact that the longitudinal sound speed in soap was shown to be markedly lower than that inferred by the intercept of the apparently linear Hugoniot with the US-axis.1. Comparison to two different epoxy resin systems showed a substantially greater gradient behind the shock in ballistic soap.19 GPa. purely-elastic. Interestingly the gradient behind the shock front seemed to become more significant for values of σx greater than 1 GPa.15 to 4. suggesting that a similar mechanism is responsible for apparent strengthening both at. soap has been shown to act hydrodynamically for values of uP < 0. suggesting good target alignment. 5 that strengthening is observed above c. ballistic gelatin. aliphatic chains compressing. .2 GPa). Fast gauge ring up times for both longitudinal and lateral gauges were encountered (consistently < 180 ns in all cases). It seems likely that this phenomenon is linked to the structure of the soap. in good correlation with the observed onset of strengthening in the P-uP Hugoniot (σx = 1.stresses local to the points (a) and (b). CONCLUSIONS The dynamic shock behaviour of a ballistic soap has been characterised using the plate-impact technique for shots in the impact velocity range of 81 to 967 m/s. Comparison to similar work involving embedded lateral gauge response from the literature suggested that this was the result of a strengthening mechanism acting to a greater extent at higher values of σx. It has also been shown that the Hugoniot for soap lies in between those for the more rigid RTM 6 and softer.2 GPa. The Hugoniot equation-of-state for ballistic soap has been shown to take a linear form over the data range of interest in US-uP space.4 mm/μs (or σx < 1. Data for RTM 6 [18] and another bespoke epoxy [23] are included in order to provide a point of comparison to the soap data. In σx-uP space. This behaviour was attributed to the deviatoric component of σx. A significantly more pronounced change in lateral stress gradient behind the shock with impact stress is apparent with the soap than the two epoxy resins considered.

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