TNO has added an extra source of information to recording ballistics testing with high-speed cameras: X-rays. The instrument, High-Speed X-ray (HSX), is unique and it records the impact of specific projectiles on a variety of materials with unprecedented precision, which enables companies to innovate their materials and products better and faster.

“We bring the best of two worlds together here,” says TNO’s Boy Kodde, Business Developer for Ballistics Research. “We already had advanced ultra high-speed cameras that are able to take up to a million frames per second to record impacts and explosions. We are now combining these with a permanently open X-ray source during the recording. Since X-rays do not record light or smoke during the explosion, the combined images contain much more, and more precise, information than ever before.”

More precise testing

Companies that make materials and products that protect against firearms and explosions can now test with much more detail and precision. Instead of a series of time-consuming tests to establish the impact using X-rays, now a single experiment suffices. Light flashes, smoke and flying particles are filtered out of the combined images so that one can see very precisely what happens, for instance, when a bullet penetrates protective clothing, a helmet or vehicle armour. That information is highly valuable for the development of materials, or new combinations of materials, for better protection.

Diagnostic information

TNO uses the data of the recordings to enrich and improve its own calculation models, which, in turn, enables more advanced simulations to be performed. For companies the ability to “see through materials” provides precise diagnostic information that can help optimise their products. That is especially important for testing new materials and their combinations.

A unique first

A lot of experiments are performed with ceramics and plastics. The intention of the ceramics, a hard material, is to stop a projectile as much as possible with the plastics layer below absorbing the object. HSX images precisely reveal the behaviour of the materials in such circumstances. The conclusion of a test may show the need to improve a material or the need for a third material. The impact, and what subsequently happens to the projectile and the protective material, can be monitored exactly. This is something that has not been shown before: a unique diagnostic system to see how the materials behave as the projectile is stopped.

TNO demonstrated the HSX system mid June during the biannual international Defence expo Eurosatory. Companies from various countries indicated that in HSX they saw new opportunities to improve and accelerate their own studies of protective equipment.

For more information about how our unique HSX system can accelerate your own innovations, contact Louk Absil.