Repetitive Impact Exposure and Characterization of Stress-Whitening of an American Football Helmet Outer Shell Material

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Kinesiology; Polymers and High Performance Materials


Mechanical stress exerted upon impact-modified polycarbonate (PC) and poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) blends has been reported to generate microscopic voids via rubber-toughener (RT) particle cavitation which can macroscopically manifest to visibly whiten the material. Previous work has revealed a whitening phenomenon in collegiate American football helmet outer shells after a single season and in helmet-grade plaques following linear impact testing. The purpose of this research was to quantify the effects of repetitive linear drop exposures on the (i) impact performance; (ii) physical and thermal properties; and (iii) surface and tensile mechanical properties of a stress-whitened American football helmet outer shell material. Statistically significant changes in plaque impact performance corresponded to substantial stress-whitening that penetrated up to 40-45% into the plaque thickness and elicited shifts in surface and tensile mechanical properties. Nanoscale microscopy revealed elongation of the PC/PET matrix and delamination at the RT-matrix interface. Thermal property analysis suggested the concomitant occurrence of RT cavitation and strain-induced PET crystallization. Overall, the research identified a battery of diagnostic tools to characterize material property changes of stress-whitening in rubber toughened helmet outer shell materials. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Polymer Testing



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