Deformation and energy absorption of additively manufactured functionally graded thickness thin-walled circular tubes under lateral crushing

Ahmad Baroutaji*, Arun Arjunan, Mark Stanford, John Robinson, Abdul Ghani Olabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functionally graded thickness (FGT) is an innovative concept to create light-weight structures with better material distribution and promising energy absorption characteristics suitable for vehicle crashworthiness applications. Accordingly, this paper suggests innovative circular tubes with in-plane thickness gradient along their perimeter and assesses their crashworthiness behaviour under lateral loading. Three different designs of circular tubes with thickness gradient were considered in which the locations of maximum and minimum thicknesses are varied. Selective laser melting method of additive manufacturing was used to manufacture the different tubes. Two different bulk powders including titanium (Ti6Al4V) and aluminium (AlSi10Mg) were used in the manufacturing process. Quasi-static crush experiments were conducted on the laser melted tubes to investigate their crushing and energy absorption behaviour. The energy absorption characteristics of the different FGT tubes were calculated and compared against a uniform thickness design. The results revealed that the best crashworthiness metrics were offered by FGT titanium tube in which the maximum thickness regions were along the horizontal and vertical directions while the minimum thickness regions were at an angle of 45° with respect to the loading direction. The aforementioned tube was found to absorb 79% greater energy per unit mass than its uniform thickness counterpart. Finally, with the aid of numerical simulations and surrogate modelling techniques, multi-objective optimisation and parametric analysis were conducted on the best FGT tube. The influences of the geometrical parameters on the crashworthiness responses of the best FGT structure were explored and the optimal thickness gradient parameters were determined. The results reported in this paper provide valuable guidance on the design of FGT energy absorption tubes for lateral deformation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111324
JournalEngineering Structures
Early online date10 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is funded by the University of Wolverhampton through early research award scheme (ERAS).


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Crashworthiness
  • Energy absorption
  • Functionally graded thickness
  • Quasi-static loading
  • Selective laser melting
  • Thin-walled structures


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