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ELASTIC CONSTANTS FOR Z-CORE SANDWICH PANELS

By Tat-Ching Fung, ~ Kang-Hai Tan, 2 and Tat-Seng Lok 3

ABSTRACT-" The computational effort to analyze a sandwich panel can be greatly


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reduced if an equivalent 2D thick-plate bending model is used instead of a detailed


3D finite-element model. The success of the transformation from a sandwich panel
to a 2D thick-plate bending model depends on the equivalent elastic constants used.
In this note, these elastic constants for Z-core sandwich panels are summarized.
The elastic constant for the shear stiffness in the weaker direction for Z-core
sandwich panels is derived. To ascertain the validity of the elastic constants, the
results obtained from the 2D thick-plate bending model with different boundary
conditions are compared with a detailed 3D finite-element model. From the results,
it is shown that excellent agreement is obtained between the two models.

INTRODUCTION

Sandwich panels have b e e n used in industry when conventional sections


fail to satisfy certain aspects of design such as high strength-to-weight or
high stiffness-to-weight ratios. T h e inherently high flexural rigidity of such
panels comes from the two facing plates s e p a r a t e d by a core (Fig. 1). T h e
core section can be in various forms and it serves primarily to transfer shear
force.
The analysis of the sandwich panel can be very tedious and u n e c o n o m i c
if the whole panel is m o d e l e d as a 3D structure. L i b o v e and H u b k a (1951)
suggested that the sandwich p a n e l can be t r a n s f o r m e d into an equivalent
homogeneous orthotropic thick plate with appropriate elastic constants. They
derived the elastic constants for a sandwich panel with a continuous cor-
rugated core. F o r panels symmetric about the m i d p l a n e , six elastic constants
are required, namely, the b e n d i n g stiffnesses in the two principal directions
Dx, D1, and Dy, the twisting stiffness Dxy, and the transverse shear stiffnesses
in the two principal directions DQx and DQy. The core stiffeners are orien-
tated along the x-axis (Fig. 1), so the associated stiffnesses in the o r t h o g o n a l
y-direction are weaker.
Based on these elastic constants, L i b o v e and B a t d o r f (1948) and later
Allen (1969) derived closed-form solutions for a panel with all sides simply
supported. The closed-form solution was e x a m i n e d by Tan et al. (1989) and
Tan and M o n t a g u e (1991), and they subsequently p r o p o s e d a simple grillage
analogy that could m o d e l successfully general b o u n d a r y conditions t o g e t h e r
with internal penetrations. Recently, Tan et al. (1993) e x t e n d e d the thick-
plate finite-element formulation to sandwich panels.
A p a r t from the 3D finite-element model, all the a f o r e m e n t i o n e d analyses
use the elastic constants of the t r a n s f o r m e d thick plate. A s manufacturing
techniques advance, t h e r e is a greater variety of sections to be used as core

1Lect., School of Civ. and Struct. Engrg., Nanyang Tech. Univ., Singapore 2263.
2St. Lect., School of Civ. and Struct. Engrg., Nanyang Tech. Univ., Singapore
2263.
3St. Lect., School of Civ. and Struct. Engrg., Nanyang Tech. Univ., Singapore
2263.
Note. Discussion open until March 1, 1995. To extend the closing date one month,
a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Journals. The manuscript
for this technical note was submitted for review and possible publication on February
19, 1993. This technical note is part of the Journal of Structural Engineering, Vol.
120, No. 10, October, 1994. 9 ISSN 0733-9445/94/0010-3046/$2.00 + $.25
per page. Technical note No. 5598.
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9 _ af _.
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/ ", li[
I ( - - 2p ] '
l_

FIG. 1. Typical Cross Section of Panel

stiffeners, in particular the C- and Z-sections. Unlike the continuous cor-


rugated core, these sections are not symmetric about the vertical plane.
While some of the elastic constants derived by Libove and Hubka (1951)
are still valid, the transverse shear stiffness Doy in the weaker y-direction
need to be reevaluated.
In this note, the elastic constants for Z-core sandwich panels are sum-
marized. The transverse shear stiffness in the weaker y-direction is derived
in detail, and the results obtained from the thick-plate model are then
compared with the 3D finite-element model9

ELASTIC CONSTANTS
For thick-plate bending problems involving transverse shear, the six elas-
tic constants relating the applied moments (Mx, My, Mxy) and shear forces
(Q.~, Qy) to the curvatures (X~, • X~y) and shear rotations (+x, by) can be
wntten

My ~Dy Xy
= Dxy Xxy (1)

LQ, j Do (by
where X~ = a0x/Ox; Xy = aOylOy; ~y = oOxlOy + aOJOx; +x = ex - OwlOx;
by = Oy - Ow/Oy; and w, 0x, and 0y are the vertical displacement, and the
rotations of the original vertical line in the x- and y-direction, respectively.
Dx, D1, Dy, Dxy, Do,, and DQy are the equivalent material elastic constants
for the thick-plate bending element of the structural properties of a sandwich
panel. It is assumed implicitly in (1) that the actions of bending, twisting,
and shearing in the two principal directions are all uncoupled, and planes
originally normal to the midsurface remain plane but not necessarily normal
to the midsurface after deformation (Mindlin 1951).
The elastic constants can be found in Libove and Hubka (1951) for a
continuous corrugated core. The elastic constants relating the bending mo-
ments to curvatures are summarized as follows:
Eh 2t Eclc
Dx- 2(1 - v 2) + ~ p ' (2)

Eh 2t
Dy - 2(1 - p2) , (3)

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Eh 2t
D~ = v 2(1 - vZ) ' (4)

1
Dxy = -~ Gh Zt, (5)
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where E, Ec, G, h, t, v, Ic, and 2p are the elastic modulus of the facing
plates, elastic modulus of the core, shear modulus of the facing plates, depth
of the panel between the centerlines, thickness of the facing plates, Poisson's
ratio of the facing plates, second moment of area of the core about the
midplane, and pitch of the core sitffeners, respectively.
The shear stiffness in the x-direction Dog for Z-sections is given by

~pE] htw
Dox = (6)
(Scg- Ec twg3)

where Go, tw, Sc, and g are the shear modulus of the core, web thickness
of the Z-section, first moment of area of the core about the midplane, and
depth of the Z-section, respectively.
When the core stiffener is not symmetric about a vertical plane, such as
a C- or Z-section, the shear stiffness in the y-direction given by Libove and
Hubka (1951) is not valid. The shear stiffness in the y-direction for a C-
section can be found in Fung et al. (1993).

DERIVATION OF Doy
As the core stiffeners are not continuous in the y-direction, the shear
stiffness D o, is much lower as compared with Dog. The formulas given by
Libove and Hubka (1951) are no longer valid if the cross section of the core
stiffeners is not symmetrical about a vertical plane, such as the C- or Z-
section. Until the present time, the derivation of the elastic constant Doy
for such cores has received little attention.
To determine the shear stiffness Doy for cores that are not symmetric
about a vertical plane, say a core of Z-sections, consider a representative
segment of the panel of length 2p in the y-direction subjected to a uniform
shear force Qy at the two ends (Fig. 2).
For the segment to be in equilibrium, there are horizontal forces of
magnitude H = Qyp/h at the ends of the segment along the top and bottom
facing plates. There may be additional horizontal forces forming pure bend-
ing moment in the segment (for example, consider a cantilever beam as
shown in Fig. 3). The contribution of these forces has been considered as
bending deformation with Dy. These forces are therefore irrelevent to the
calculation of the shear deformation of the segment.
In general, there are shear forces, horizontal forces, and bending moments
at the two ends (Fig. 2). Moreover, when two segments of panel are joined
together, they must satisfy both the equilibrium and compatibility conditions
at the interface. The equilibrium condition implies that the shear forces at
the two ends of a segment in the top and bottom plates must be equal and
opposite in direction of action ( V 1 =V3, V 2 V4, and V 1 -~- V 2
= = Qy).
From antisymmetry, the shear forces at the diagonal ends are the same as
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2p

~=IM L P ~_
V1 M1 t M3 V3 71 Ia , -
H
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Oy
-~} [--- tw
H V21M2 ,i j | M,, v, v= .=

tf
FIG. 2. Determination of DQy
well (V1 = V4, Vz = V3). Thus, all the shear forces are equal in magnitude
(V~ = V2 = I/3 = V4 = Qy/2).
Following the same argument, the bending moments are identical and
opposite in the direction at the two ends of a segment (M1 = M2 = M3 =
M,). The compatibility condition imposes that the slopes in the top and
bottom plates at the two ends of a segment must be identical. Thus, the
magnitude of the end moments can be determined as M1 = M2 = M3 =
M4 = Qya/2, where a is the distance from the web of the stiffener to the
connection point between the facing plate and the flange of the Z-section.
Again, from the consideration of antisymmety about the midplane, the
separations of the top and bottom plates at the two ends of the segment
are identical, and hence compatibility of movement is observed. It can be
seen, however, that the separation of the facing plates may not necessarily
equal to h.
From the foregoing discussion, the relative deformation of the panel can
be found. To eliminate rigid-body motion, it can be assumed that the center
location is fixed in space as shown in Fig. 4. It follows that the vertical
deflection (A1, A2) at the two ends and the horizontal displacement (An) of
the top plate can be determined by the unit load method as

- E1 2 ( p + a)2 -
+ ~QY (~h (2p + a) + p2g2~
--~-/ (7a)

Qy (/pag pZg2~
+ ~\2h (2p - a) + ~ - - - / (7b)

QY ( ~ (h - g ) + ~ -
An = Ecle
where I = t3/12 is the second moment of area per unit width of each facing
plate about its own midplane. The shear strain is
/Xl + A2 2An
- 2p h (8)
Therefore,
1 ~ 1 p2 1 (pag2
DQy Qy E1 6 + ~ \--hS- + 6h 2/ O)
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i_ 2p _,_ ~/4 _1
v I

Qy(x+2p)/h Qy x/h
9Qy(x+2p)/h
---.~ i ~.~ ih
F,
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Qy x/h
4----, J ~-
II
, --...~
Qyp/h
Qy(x+p)/h p/h Qy
,4-..-
p/h

Bending Deformation Shear Deformation


FIG. 3. Decomposition of Internal Forces

AH
~. ----I --~ |or

1 -~F-i
g" I } ~ rentre
b;afiis~umed

2p _

FIG. 4. Relative Deformation for Panel Element Subjected to Shear Qy


Since the stucture is in plane strain condition, the elastic modulus E should
be replaced by E/(1 - v2). Thus, the modified shear stiffness DQy is given
by

1 y _ (1 - 1)2) p2 + ~1- 1)2~ ?0~2 + ~gg (10)


DQy Qy E1 6 ET~I~ \ h2 6h2/

NUMERICAL EXAMPLES
Consider a Z-section with the following dimensions and properties:

h = 32.4 m m
g = 30 mm
t = tw = 1 . 2 m m
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p = 37.5 mm
a = 12.5 m m
aI = 25 m m
E = Ec = 6 8 , 0 0 0 N / m m 2 ( a l u m i n u m )
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v = v~=0.3

The elastic constants are evaluated from (2)-(6) and (10).

Dx = 61,754,170Nmm
Dy = 47,066,169Nmm
D1 = 14,119,851Nmm
Dxy = 16,473,159Nmm
Dox = 16,170.68N/mm
Doy = 13.50112 N/mm

Table 1 shows a comparison of the deflections obtained by the thick-plate


bending analysis using the given elastic constants and a detailed 3D finite-
element model for the sandwich panel under different loading conditions.

TABLE 1. Deflection Comparison


Full finite- Percent
Loading condition element model Thick p l a t e difference
(1) (2) (3) (4)
(a) Case 1: cantilever in y-direction; length = 1550 m m ; width = 100 m m ;
no. of Z-stiffeners = 21; 100 m m long
Moment 40 N m at tip 11.12 m m i0.94 m m -1.6
Point load 50 N at tip 71.42 m m 71.53 m m 0.2
U D L 0.001 N/ram 2 over b e a m 105.18 m m 105.39 m m 0.2
(b) Case 2: Cantilever in ,-direction; length = 800 ram; width = 100 ram;
no. of Z-stiffeners = 11; 100 m m long
Moment 40 Nm at the tip 2.960 m m 2.915 m m - 1.5
Point load 50 N at the tip 30.82 m m 31.57 m m 2.4
U D L 0.001 N/mm 2 over the beam 24.22 m m 24.86 m m 2.6
(c) Case 3: Cantilever in x-direction; length = 750 ram; width = 200 m m ;
no. of Z-stiffeners = 3; 750 m m long
Moment 550.8 N m at the tip 12.88 m m 13.39 m m 4.0
Point load 300 N at the tip 3.602 m m 3.645 m m 1.1
U D L 0.001 N/mm 2 over the beam 0.690 m m 0.686 m m - 0.5
(d) Case 3a: Cantilever in the x-direction (modified Dx); length = 750 ram;
width = 200 m m ; no. of Z-stiffeners = 3; 750 m m long
m

Moment 550.8 N m at the tip [ 12.88 m m 13.00 m m 1.0


Point load 300 N at the tip I 3.602 m m 3.540 m m -1.7
U D L 0.001 N/ram 2 over the beam 0.690 m m 0.666 m m - 3.4
(e) Case 4: Plate simply supported along four edges; dimensions = 1,500 m m
• 800 m m ; no. of Z-stiffeners = 11; 1500 m m long
U D L 0.001 N/ram z over the plate 0.6922 m m 0.6868 m m [ - 0.8
(8 x 4 mesh)
I
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In case 1 and case 2, a cantilever in the y-direction (Fig. 5) is considered.
The purpose of the two case studies is to demonstrate the accuracy of the
derived values for Dy and Day as compared with a 3D finite-element model.
Case 3 studies a cantilever in the x-direction (Fig. 6). The accuracy of Dx
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and the averaging effect on the number of effective stiffeners are addressed.
Finally, case 4 combines all the elastic constants and examines a panel,
simply supported along the four edges and subjected to uniformly distributed
loading.

Case 1 and Case 2


Case 1 and case 2 in Table 1 show that the calculated Dy and Day values
are accurately reflected in comparison with the finite-element results. A
simplified beam model, consisting of two facing plates alone is used to
estimate the deflection. The second moment of area is Iyy = 2 x (32.4/2) 2

x Y length

FIG. 5. Case 1 and Case 2: Stiffener Orientation

x y

FIG. 6. Case 3a: Stiffener Orientation

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0.7

0.6
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0.5

0.4
g
0.3

0.2

0.1

i t ! I I 1 I

0 200 400 500 800


Distance (mm)
FIG. 7. x- and y-Direction Deflection Profiles Obtained From Thick-Plate and Fi-
nite-Element Analyses

x 100 x 1.2 = 62,985.6 mm 4, and the corresponding calculated deflection


when subjected to the moment at the tip is (A = ML2/2EI) 11.22 mm.
Under the action of pure bending, Dr is verified against the finite-element
model as Doyis irrelevant. The thick plate is relatively more rigid as it takes
into account the lateral restraint from the core stiffeners, and that results
in a lower deflection.
When the beam is subjected to lateral loading in case 1 and case 2, the
shear rather than the flexural deformation is dominant. The end fixity ac-
tually modified the local shear distribution. For a longer beam, the fixity
effect is reduced and the predicted result in case 1 is more accurate than
that in case 2. (0.2% difference as compared to 2.6% difference.)

Case 3
In case 3, the results confirm the accuracy of D~. However, DQx cannot
be verified as the shear rigidity in the x-direction is very high, and the shear
deformation is small compared with the flexural deformation. The larger
difference for the beam under pure bending is due to the averaging elastic
properties used in the thick-plate formulation. For instance, a 75-mm pitch
on a 200-mm wide beam is represented by 200/75 = 2.667 stiffeners in the
thick-plate calculation. The conventional finite-element model consists of
three discrete stiffeners instead. If the modified Dx (consisting of three
stiffeners) is used in the thick-plate analysis, as shown in case 3a and Fig.
6, significant reduction in the discrepancy is observed.
It can be calculated that the second moment of area of the Z-section is
16,200 mm 4. This value is required to obtain the modified elastic constant
Dx. The total second m o m e n t of area of the beam is therefore 3 • 16,200
+ 2 • 200 • 1.2 x (32.4/2) 2 = 174,571 mm 4 = /total" Thus, the modified
bending stiffness Dx for the thick-plate analysis is
/tot.1 D2
-~p E + ~ y = 63,590,095 N m m

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This value is 3% higher than the Dx used in case 3. It is not surprising that
the predicted deflection differs by 4% as a result of the gross averaging
effect of the elastic properties. As more stiffeners are involved, as in a wide
panel, this averaging effect would diminish and no modification of Dr would
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be required in the thick-plate analysis. The deflection of the full finite-


element model subjected to uniformly distributed load gives a higher value
because of the use of equivalent nodal forces.

Case 4
To further verify the overall performance, a rectangular plate with all
four sides simply supported is considered in case 4. The agreement between
the calculated and the finite-element result is extremely good. Making use
of symmetry in the finite-element analysis, only half of the panel is modeled.
Over 2,000 four-node thin-plate bending elements are used, with over 13,000
degrees of freedom. In contrast, the thick-plate model using an 8 x 4 mesh
has 121 degrees of freedom and 32 eight-node elements. It is clear that the
saving in computational effort is significant. Deflection profiles along the
centerlines of the panel are shown in Fig. 7. The agreement between the
two modeling techniques is excellent.

CONCLUSION

Accurate response prediction using simplified analyses for sandwich panels


depends on the elastic constants used. In this note, the elastic constants for
Z-core sandwich panels are summarized, and the transverse shear stiffness
constant in the weaker direction is derived. The results obtained from the
transformed thick plate is in excellent agreement with detailed finite-element
analyses. The elastic constants have been verified to be valid. The com-
putational effort, however, is significantly reduced when using the elastic
constants in the thick-plate analysis.

APPENDIX I. REFERENCES
Allen, H. G. (1969). "The analysis and design of structural sandwich panels." Com-
monwealth and International Library, Pergamon Press, Elmsford, N.Y.
Fung, T. C., Tan, K. H., and Lok, T. S. (1993). "Analysis of C-core sandwich plate
decking." Proc., Third Int. Offshore and Polar Engrg. Conf., Vol. IV, Int. Soc.
of Offshore and Polar Engrs., Golden, Colo., 244-249.
Libove, C., and Batdorf, S. B. (1948). "A general small deflection theory for fiat
sandwich plates." Internal Rep. NACA TN 1526.
Libove, C., and Hubka, R. E. (1951). "Elastic constants for corrugated-core sand-
wich plates." Internal Rep. NACA TN2289.
Mindlin, R. D. (1951). "Influence of rotary inertia and shear on flexural motions of
isotropic, elastic plates." J. Appl. Mech., 18, 31-38,
Tan, K. H., Fung, T. C., and Lok, T. S. (1993). "A simplified thick plate analogy
for the analysis of all-steel sandwich panels." The Struct. Engr., 71(14), 253-258.
Tan, K. H., and Montague, P. (1991). "A simple grillage analogy for the analysis
of steel sandwich panels with penetrations." The Struct. Engr., 69, 271-276.
Tan, K. H., Montague, P., and Norris, C. (1989). "Steel sandwich panels: finite
element, closed solution and experimental comparisons on a 6 m by 2,1 m panel."
The Struct. Engr., 67(9), 159-266.
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J. Struct. Eng., 1994, 120(10): 3046-3055
APPENDIX II. NOTATION

The following symbols are used in this paper:


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Dx, D1, Dy = bending stiffness in x- and y-directions;


Dxy = twisting stiffness;
Dox, Doy = transverse shear stiffness in x- and y-directions;
E, Ec = elastic modulus of facing plates and core, respectively;
h = overall depth of panel;
1 = t3/12;
Ic = second moment of area of core about midplane;
Ip = second moment of area of facing plates about midplane;
Mx, My = bending moments in x- and y-directions;
Mxy = twisting moment;
2p = pitch of core stiffeners;
Qx, Qy = shear force in x- and y-directions;
Sc = equivalent first moment of area of core and facing plates
about midplane;
t, tw = thickness of facing plates and web, respectively;
w = vertical displacement;
0~ and 0y = rotation of the originally vertical line in the x- and y-direc-
tions;
v, vc = poisson's ratios of facing plates and core, respectively;
+x and ~by = rotation due to shear in x- and y-directions; and
Y~, Xy, X~y = curvature in x- and y-directions and twisting curvature.

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