(Received 3 August 1985; accepted 11 September 1985)
Published Online: July
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Conventional attitudes within the forensic science community concerning the fracturing of glass center around tensile failure of the glass, frequently depicted as a “bending” of the glass. While this is not conceptually incorrect, it represents only one case of a more universal phenomenon in which the tensile failure of glass does not necessarily involve any significant deflection of the glass. Tensile failure can be achieved with either quasi-static or dynamic loading of the glass. In quasi-static loading, tensile failure will initiate a fracture at the weakest point (that is, the locus of a Griffith crack), but the surfaces of this crack may be in optical contact, and thus no perceptible deformation of the glass would be required before failure. A consideration of dynamic loading is necessary to explain the “cratering” effect observed in moderate- to high-velocity projectile impact. In sharp dynamic loading (for example, a bullet impact) the tensile stress is provided by the reflection and subsequent interference of the compression waves which precede the passage of the projectile; this particular type of stress results in Hopkinson fractures, a multiplicity of which creates a crater. The dimensions and chamfering of projectile craters are a manifestation of the crack velocity propagation, and are not inherently a function of projectile velocity or caliber.
Professor of forensic science, Department of Biomedical and Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA
Director, Forensic Investigative Services, Citrus Heights, CA
Stock #: JFS11092J