Plastic collapse modes for clamped sandwich beams have been investigated experimentally and theoretically for the case of aluminium face sheets and a metal foam core. Three initial collapse mechanisms have been identified and explored with the aid of a collapse mechanism map. It is shown that the effect of clamped boundary conditions is to drive the deformation mechanism towards plastic stretching of the face sheets. Consequently, the ultimate strength and level of energy absorption of the sandwich beam are set by the face sheet ductility. Limit load analyses have been performed and simple analytical models have been developed in order to predict the postyield response of the sandwich beams; these predictions are validated by both experiments and finite elements simulations. It is shown experimentally that the ductility of aluminium face sheets is enhanced when the faces are bonded to a metal foam core. Finally, minimum weight configurations for clamped aluminium sandwich beams are obtained using the analytical formulas for sandwich strength, and the optimal designs are compared with those for sandwich beams with composite faces and a polymer foam core.

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