Abstract The breakage induced in single circular particles that impact on solid plates has been studied using a two-dimensional simulation of solid fracture. The simulation allows the computer ‘experimenter’ to vary independently material properties such as Young's modulus, Poisson's ratio and work of fracture, flexibility that is unavailable in direct experimentation. Where comparison is possible, the simulation appears to mimic experimental results accurately. This study shows that the size distributions are, as would be expected, most strongly dependent on the collisional energy. Of secondary importance is the ratio of the impact velocity to the sound speed within the solid material. Finally, the size distributions show little effect of Poisson's ratio.