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Foam Composite Specifications and Qualification in Support of NIJ 0115.00



Aaron M. Forster, Emilien J. Guigues, Amanda L. Forster, Jeffrey M. Davis, Kirk D. Rice


A laminate foam composite is recommended in the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 0115.00 standard as the backing material for testing stab resistant body armor. The foam specification originated from early work to match force-displacement profiles from human stab motion to force- displacement profiles of gravity-driven drop tests. Anecdotal evidence from test labs and qualitative comparisons of foam from different suppliers suggests not all currently specified foams are created equal. NIST has developed a suite of measurements to quantify the differences between non-linear foam composites as a function of impact energy and strain rate. These measurements include standardized (ASTM) quasi-static tests for stress-strain properties, density, and hardness in conjunction with dynamic measurements using an instrumented drop mass to validate performance at realistic velocities and impact energies. Earlier PASS presentations have shown quasi-static and dynamic methods capable of identifying slight differences between foam materials, but they have not been applied to commercially relevant systems used for stab testing. NIST solicited stab pack samples from multiple U.S. and International foam stab pack suppliers in order to compare foam performance. The performance of these stab packs is compared to an accepted legacy foam material. The results show that proper specification of the foam can significantly reduce variability within the current materials supplied to test laboratories. These results have led to suggested changes for the current specification and qualification testing. In order to verify performance, several ASTM qualification methods are recommended as revisions to the standard. It will be shown that these additional tests will identify non-compliant materials before use within a stab test. The impact of the foam composite properties on the penetration of a spike into a model stab resistant armor will be presented.
Proceedings Title
Personal Armour Systems Symposium (PASS)2014 Proceedings
Conference Dates
September 8-12, 2014
Conference Location
Cambridge, UK


foam, impact, indentation, NIJ Stab Standard, body armor


Forster, A. , Guigues, E. , Forster, A. , Davis, J. and Rice, K. (2014), Foam Composite Specifications and Qualification in Support of NIJ 0115.00, Personal Armour Systems Symposium (PASS)2014 Proceedings, Cambridge, UK (Accessed July 22, 2024)


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Created September 8, 2014, Updated March 6, 2023