Compressive response of open-cell foams. Part I: Morphology and elastic properties

L. Gong, S. Kyriakides*, Wen-Yea Jang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

328 Scopus citations


This study is concerned with the understanding and modeling of the compressive response of open cell foams. The I response starts with a nearly linear elastic regime which terminates into a limit load followed by an extensive load plateau. The plateau, which is responsible for the excellent energy absorption capacity of foams, is followed by a second stiff branch. Results from polyester urethane open cell foams with relative densities of about 0.025 are used to illustrate this behavior using experiments coupled with several levels of modeling. The experiments include characterization of the microstructure and the properties of the base material and measurement of the compressive response of the foams of various cell sizes. A sequence of models for predicting the complete response of such foam is developed. The foam is idealized to be periodic using the space-filling Kelvin cell assigned the major geometric characteristics found in the foams tested. The cells are elongated in the rise direction, the ligaments are assumed to be straight, to have Plateau border cross-sections and nonuniform cross-sectional area distribution. The ligaments are modeled as shear-deformable extensional beams and the base material is assumed to be linearly elastic. Prediction of the initial elastic moduli are addressed in Part I. Closed form expressions for the material constants are presented as well as results using a FE model of the characteristic cell. Comparison between measurements and predictions is very favorable. The paper finishes with results from a limited parametric study of the elastic moduli. The results demonstrate that inclusion of the geometric complexities mentioned above is essential for successful prediction of the moduli of such foams. The nonlinear parts of the response including the foam crushing behavior are addressed in Part II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1379
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2005


  • Elastic properties
  • Mechanical response
  • Morphology
  • Open cell foams

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