The variation in elastic modulus throughout the compression of foam materials

Yongle Sun, Benyamin Amirrasouli, Seyed Behnam Razavi, Q.M. Li, Tristan Lowe, Philip Withers

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    Abstract

    We present a comprehensive experimental study of the variation in apparent unloading elastic modulus of polymer (largely elastic), aluminium (largely plastic) and fibre-reinforced cement (quasi-brittle) closed-cell foams throughout uniaxial compression. The results show a characteristic “zero-yield-stress” response and thereafter a rapid increase in unloading modulus during the supposedly “elastic” regime of the compressive stress-strain curve. The unloading modulus then falls with strain due to the localised cell-wall yielding or failure in the pre-collapse stage and the progressive cell crushing in the plateau stage, before rising sharply during the densification stage which is associated with global cell crushing and foam compaction. A finite element model based on the actual 3D cell structure of the aluminium foam imaged by X-ray computed tomography (CT) predicts an approximately linear fall of elastic modulus from zero strain until a band of collapsed cells forms. It shows that the subsequent gradual decrease in modulus is caused by the progressive cell collapse. The elastic modulus rises sharply after the densification initiation strain has been reached. However, the elastic modulus is still well below that of the constituent material even when the “fully” dense state is approached. This work highlights the fact that the unloading elastic modulus varies throughout compression and challenges the idea that a constant elastic modulus can be applied in a homogenised foam model. It is suggested that the most representative value of elastic modulus may be obtained by extrapolating the measured unloading modulus to zero strain.
    Keywords: Cellular materials; Foam crushing; Young’s modulus; Unloading tests; Image-based modelling
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161–174
    JournalActa Materialia
    Volume110
    Early online date21 Mar 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016

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