Axial members are commonly used in automotive structures and are responsible for absorbing significant portion of impact energy in the event of an accident. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of inclusion of functionally graded cellular structures in thin walled members under compressive axial loading. A compact functionally graded cellular structure was introduced inside a 352 mm long square tube with side length and wall thickness of 74 mm and 3.048 mm, respectively. The tube wall material was aluminum. The cellular structure’s geometry was observed in the cross-section of a banana peel that has a specific graded cellular packing in a confined space. This packing enables the peel to protect the internal soft core from external impacts. The same cellular pattern was used to construct the structure in present study. The study was conducted using non-linear finite element analysis in ABAQUS. The hybrid structure (tube and graded cellular structure) was fixed on one side and on the other (free end) side, was struck by a rigid mass of 300 Kg travelling at a velocity of 35 mph (15.64 m/s) along the axis of the square tube and perpendicular to the in-plane direction of the graded cellular structure. The tube and cell walls were discretized using reduced integration, hourglass control, 4 nodes, and hexahedral shell elements. The impact plate was modeled with 4 node rigid shell elements. General contact conditions were applied to define surface interaction among graded structure, square tube, and rigid plate. The parameters governing the energy absorbing characteristics such as deformation or collapsing modes, crushing/ reactive force, and energy curves, were evaluated. The results showed that the inclusion of graded cellular structure increased the energy absorption capacity of the square tube by 41.06%. The graded structure underwent progressive stepwise, layer by layer, crushing mode and provided lateral stability to the square tube thus delaying local tube wall collapse and promoting outward convex localized folds on the tube’s periphery as compared to highly localized and compact deformation modes that are typically observed in an empty square tube under axial compressive loading. The variation in deformation mode, large contact areas, presence of graded cellular structure resulted in enhanced stiffness of the hybrid structure, and therefore, high energy absorption by the structure. The results of this preliminary study show a potential of functionally graded cellular materials to significantly improve the energy absorbing capacities of thin walled members under axial loading by altering member’s crushing deformation modes.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.