Experimental and numerical investigations on the use of polymer Hopkinson pressure bars

John J. Harrigan* (Corresponding Author), Bright Ahonsi, Elisavet Palamidi, Steve R. Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Split Hopkinson pressure bar (SHPB) testing has traditionally been carried out using metal bars. For testing low stiffness materials such as rubbers or low strength materials such as low density cellular solids considered primarily herein, there are many advantages to replacing the metal bars with polymer bars. An investigation of a number of aspects associated with the accuracy of SHPB testing of these materials is reported. Test data are used to provide qualitative comparisons of accuracy using different bar materials and wave-separation techniques. Sample results from SHPB tests are provided for balsa, Rohacell foam and hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene. The techniques used are verified by finite-element (FE) analysis. Experimentally, the material properties of the bars are determined from impact tests in the form of a complex elastic modulus without curve fitting to a rheological model. For the simulations, a rheological model is used to define the bar properties by curve fitting to the experimentally derived properties. Wave propagation in a polymer bar owing to axial impact of a steel bearing ball is simulated. The results indicate that the strain histories can be used to determine accurately the viscoelastic properties of polymer bars. An FE model of the full viscoelastic SHPB set-up is then used to simulate tests on hyperelastic materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130201
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences
Issue number2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

J.J.H. and B.A. gratefully acknowledge the financial support of QinetiQ and EPSRC through the industrial CASE scheme. J.J.H. is grateful for the support provided through the LRF Centre. LRF, a UK registered charity and sole shareholder of Lloyd's Register Group Ltd, invests in science, engineering and technology for public benefit, worldwide.


  • finite element
  • stress wave
  • viscoelasticity
  • Hopkinson pressure bar


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