On the compressive strength of open-cell metal foams with Kelvin and random cell structures

Wen-Yea Jang, Stelios Kyriakides*, Andrew M. Kraynik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Two families of finite element models of anisotropic, aluminum alloy, open-cell foams are developed and their predictions of elastic properties and compressive strength are evaluated by direct comparison to experimental results. In the first family of models, the foams are idealized as anisotropic Kelvin cells loaded in the <100> direction and in the second family more realistic models, based on Surface Evolver simulations of random soap froth with N3 cells are constructed. In both cases the ligaments are straight but have nonuniform cross sectional area distributions that resemble those of the foams tested. The ligaments are modeled as shear deformable beams with elasto-plastic material behavior. The calculated compressive response starts with a linearly elastic regime. At higher stress levels, inelastic action causes a gradual reduction of the stiffness that eventually leads to a stress maximum, which represents the strength of the material. The periodicity of the Kelvin cell enables calculation of the compressive response up to the limit stress with just a single fully periodic characteristic cell. Beyond the limit stress, deformation localizes along the principal diagonals of the microstructure. Consequently beyond the limit stress the response is evaluated using finite size 3-D domains that allow the localization to develop. The random models consist of 3-D domains of 216, 512 or 1000 cells with periodicity conditions on the compressed ends but free on the sides. The compressive response is also characterized by a limit load instability but now the localization is disorganized resembling that observed in experiments. The foam elastic moduli and strengths obtained from both families of models are generally in very good agreement with the corresponding measurements. The random foam models yield 5-10% stiffer elastic moduli and slightly higher strengths than the Kelvin cell models. Necessary requirements for this high performance of the models are accurate representation of the material distribution in the ligaments and correct modeling of the nonlinear stress-strain response of the aluminum base material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2872-2883
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number21
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2010


  • Aluminum
  • Elastic properties
  • Foams
  • Strength

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