Nonlinear behavior of composite sandwich beams in three-point bending

E. E. Gdoutos*, I. M. Daniel, K. A. Wang, J. L. Abot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The load-deflection behavior of a composite sandwich beam in three-point bending was investigated. The beam was made of unidirectional carbon/epoxy facings and a polyvinyl chloride closed-cell foam core. The load-deflection curves were plotted up to the point of failure initiation. They consist of an initial linear part followed by a nonlinear portion. A nonlinear mechanics of materials analysis that accounts for the combined effect of the nonlinear behavior of the facings and core materials (material nonlinearity) and the large deflections of the beam (geometric nonlinearity) was developed. The theoretical predictions were in good agreement with the experimental results. It was found that the effect of material nonlinearity on the deflection of the beam is more pronounced for shear-dominated core failures in the case of short span lengths. It is due to the nonlinear shear stress-strain behavior of the core. For long span lengths, the observed nonlinearity is small and is attributed to the combined effect of the facings nonlinear stress-strain behavior and the large deflections of the beam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Bending
  • Cellular foams
  • Fiber Composites
  • Geometric nonlinearity
  • Material nonlinearity
  • Sandwich beams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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