Abstract

Combat helmets have gone through many changes, from shells made of metal to advanced composites using Kevlar and Dyneema, along with introduction of pad suspensions to provide comfort and protection. Helmets have been designed to perform against ballistic and blunt impact threats. But, in today’s warfare, combat helmets are expected to protect against all three threats, blunt, ballistic impacts and blast effects to minimize traumatic brain injury (TBI) and provide a better thermal comfort. We are developing a helmet system analysis methodology integrating the effect of multiple threats, i.e., blast and blunt impacts, to achieve an optimal helmet system design, by utilizing multi-physics computational tools. We used a validated human head model to represent the warfighter’s head. The helmet composite shell was represented by an orthotropic elasto-plastic material model. A strain rate dependent model was employed for pad suspension material. Available dynamic loading data was used to calibrate the material parameters. Multiple helmet system configurations subjected to blast and blunt loadings were considered to quantify their influence on brain biomechanical response. Parametric studies were carried out to assess energy absorption for different suspension geometry and material morphology for different loadings. The resulting brain responses were used with published injury criteria to characterize the helmet system performance through a single metric for each threat type. Approaches to combine single-threat metrics to allow aggregating performance against multiple threats were discussed.

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