• aluminium honeycomb;
  • cellular solids;
  • experimental testing;
  • finite-element analysis;
  • sandwich core

Abstract:  Cellular solids are becoming increasingly popular for sandwich core and energy-absorbing applications in many automotive and other transportation structures. This paper investigates experimentally and numerically the strength and post-failure energy absorption of a popular hexagonal aluminium honeycomb material under multi-axial loading conditions. For the experimental work, an improved Arcan test apparatus is used so that interaction of multi-axial compression and shear loading on failure and crushing may be studied; optical measuring methods are used to extract deformation data. In addition, experimental work to characterise the material with pre-deformation in the in-plane directions has also been conducted. This experimental work provides input for computational modelling of the material and two alternative modelling approaches have been investigated. First, a three-dimensional anisotropic, elastic–plastic model, with coupling of loading components is used to represent the material at the macro-level and, second, a meso-modelling approach using a fine shell representation of the thin-walled honeycomb cellular structure is applied. For practical analysis of large-scale structures, the former approach is computationally efficient and can reasonably treat the most important failure and crush characteristics of the material. However, for more accurate analysis, particularly in the case of complex non-proportional loading, the meso-shell model may provide a more realistic solution.