The use of light-weight aluminium sandwiches in the shipbuilding industry represents an attractive and interesting solution to the increasing environmental demands. The aim of this paper was the comparison of static and low-velocity impact response of two aluminium sandwich typologies: foam and honeycomb sandwiches. The parameters which influence the static and dynamic response of the investigated aluminium sandwiches and their capacity of energy absorption were analysed. Quasi – static indentation tests were carried out and the effect of indenter shape has been investigated. The indentation resistance depends on the nose geometry and is strongly influenced by the cell diameter and by the skin - core adhesion for the honeycomb and aluminium foam sandwich panels, respectively. The static bending tests, performed at different support span distances on sandwich panels with the same nominal size, produced various collapse modes and simplified theoretical models were applied to explain the observed collapse modes. The capacity of energy dissipation under bending loading is affected by the collapse mechanism and also by the face-core bonding and the cell size for foam and honeycomb panels, respectively. A series of low-velocity impact tests were, also, carried out and a different collapse mechanism was observed for the two typologies of aluminium sandwiches: the collapse of honeycomb sandwiches occurred for the buckling of the cells and is strongly influenced by the cell size, whereas the aluminium foam sandwiches collapsed for the foam crushing and their energy absorbing capacity depends by the foam quality. It is assumed that a metal foam has good quality if it has many cells of similar size without relevant defects. A clear influence of cell size distribution and morphological parameters on foam properties has not yet been established because it has not yet been possible to control these parameters in foam making. The impact response of the honeycomb and foam sandwiches was investigated using a theoretical approach, based on the energy balance model and the model parameters were obtained by the thomographic analyses of the impacted panels. The present study is a step towards the application of aluminium sandwich structures in the shipbuilding.
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