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The tensile testing of a needledpunched nonwoven fabric is presented. A high-sensitivity Split-Hopkinson Tensile Bar device was specifically designed for this purpose. The strain gauge measurements were combined with high-speed photography and Digital Image Correlation to analyse the deformation micromechanisms at high strain rates. The experimental set-up allowed to determine the wave propagation velocity of the as-received nonwoven, the evolution of the strain field with deformation and the wave interaction inside the fabric. The deformation was accommodated by the same micromechanisms observed during quasi-static tensile testing and ballistic impact, which comprised fibre straightening, rotation and sliding. Heterogeneous strain fields were developed in the nonwoven as a result of the non-linear pseudo-plastic response of the fabric and the internal dissipation due to the frictional deformation micromechanisms, preventing the propagation of high magnitude strain waves into the specimen. Additionally, the output forces were analysed to determine the influence of high-strain rates in the mechanical response of the nonwoven, finding an increment of the stiffness for low applied strains under dynamic loading. These findings provide the basis to develop strain-rate dependent constitutive models to predict wave propagation in needlepunched nonwovens when subjected to impact loads.
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