Aluminum foams with a functionally graded density have exhibited better impact resistance and a better energy absorbing performance than aluminum foams with a uniform density. Nevertheless, the anisotropic compression behavior caused by the graded density has scarcely been studied. In this paper, a density graded aluminum foam (FG) was prepared by a controlled foaming process. The effect of density anisotropy on the mechanical behavior of FGs was investigated under quasi-static compression and a low-velocity impact. Digital image correlation (DIC) and numerical simulation techniques were used to identify deformation mechanisms at both macro and cell levels. Results show that transverse compression on FGs lead to a higher collapse strength but also to a lower energy absorption, due to the significant decrease in densification strain and plateau stress. The deformation behavior of FGs under longitudinal compression was dominated by the progressive extension of the deformation bands. For FGs under transverse compression, the failure mode of specimens was characterized by multiple randomly distributed deformation bands. Moreover, the transverse compression caused more deformation on cells, through tearing and lateral stretching, because of the high lateral strain level in the specimens. It was concluded that the transverse compression of FGs lead to a lower plateau stress and a lower cell usage, thus resulting in a poorer energy absorption efficient; this constitutes a key factor which should be taken into consideration in structural design.
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