Acta Mech. 125, 93-105, 1997


M. Seitzberger¹, F.G. Rammerstorfer¹, H.P.Degischer² and R.Gradinger³

¹Institute of Lightweight Structures and Aerospace Engineering,
TU Wien, Vienna, Austria
²Institute of Materials Science and Testing,
TU Wien, Vienna, Austria
³LKR, Ranshofen, Austria

Abstract - This study, with the emphasis on experiments, investigates the applicability of aluminium foam as filler material in tubes made of mild steel having square or circular cross sections, which are crushed axially at low loading velocities. In addition to the experiments finite element studies are performed to simulate the crushing behaviour of the tested square tubes, where a crushable foam material model is shown to be suitable for describing the inelastic response of aluminium foam with respect to the considered problems. The experimental results for the square tubes reveal efficiency improvements with respect to energy absorption of up to 60%, resulting from changed buckling modes of the tubes and energy dissipation during the compression of the foam material itself. The principal features as well as the changes of the crushing process due to filling can also be studied by the numerical simulations. A global failure mechanism due to a high foam density can be observed for filled circular tubes. Aluminium foam is shown to be a suitable material for filling thin-walled tubular steel structures, holding the potential of enhancing the energy absorption capacity considerably, provided the plastic buckling remains characterized by local modes.