High-Speed X-Ray: TNO ballistics lab develops unique new testing system

27 Feb 2017

Testing the materials used to protect front-line military and security personnel should now be easier thanks to a landmark breakthrough at TNO’s Laboratory for Ballistics Research. Its new High-Speed X-Ray (HSX) system replaces a long series of tests with a single procedure, allowing the makers of life-saving battlefield materials to improve their products faster and more effectively.

HSX combines a state-of-the-art high-speed camera operating at speeds of up to a million frames per second with continuous X-ray recording to measure how projectiles and fragment impact with protective armour, clothing or helmets. Previously, using these techniques in tandem was a time-consuming process requiring careful planning to precisely coordinate the photographic exposure with a one-off X-ray “flash”. And because the HSX recording omits the light and smoke emitted during an explosion, the volume and accuracy of the information obtained are greater than ever before.

A world first

“HSX is simply unique – a world first,” says TNO’s Boy Kodde. “In just a single test, this technique provides detailed information on a projectile’s behaviour. With a clear view of the object material’s interior, you can see how the projectile penetrates it. For example, whether it twists sideways or disintegrates. And you can see what’s happening to the material itself. What is its first reaction? Does a fabric tear, for example? Or does it stretch first and, if so, how far? It’s important to know this, as it determines whether the projectile is ultimately stopped. With HSX, we can actually see the interaction taking place.”

Making life safer

TNO is currently sounding out potential industrial partners to help develop commercial applications for HSX. For manufacturers of ballistic materials, personal protective equipment and ammunition, the technique could pave the way for exciting new projects. And for the men and women serving at the sharp end, in the armed forces, the police or the emergency services, it has real potential to make life significantly safer.

You are invited to learn more about the technique’s unique capabilities and to find out what TNO can do for you by contacting Louk Absil of the LBR. For details see or watch the animation below.


World-class ballistics research

TNO has been working on ballistics research for decades. The Dutch Ministry of Defence, foreign defence ministries, the international defence industry and suppliers are among the customers of our Ballistics... Read more

Protection, Munitions & Weapons: protection of military personnel and materials

Military personnel must be able to operate effectively, safely and securely in varying operational situations. Read more


Stay up to date with our latest news, activities and vacancies collects and processes data in accordance with the applicable privacy regulations for an optimal user experience and marketing practices.
This data can easily be removed from your temporary profile page at any time.
You can also view our privacy statement or cookie-information.