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Accepted Manuscript

Review of current trends in research and applications of sandwich structures

Victor Birman, George A. Kardomatea

PII: S1359-8368(17)33978-1
DOI: 10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.01.027
Reference: JCOMB 5518

To appear in: Composites Part B

Received Date: 15 November 2017

Revised Date: 6 January 2018
Accepted Date: 27 January 2018

Please cite this article as: Birman V, Kardomatea GA, Review of current trends in research and
applications of sandwich structures, Composites Part B (2018), doi: 10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.01.027.

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Review of Current Trends in Research and Applications of Sandwich


Victor Birman
Missouri S&T Global-St. Louis
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Missouri University of Science and Technology
12837 Flushing Meadows Drive, Suite 210
St. Louis, MO 63131

(Corresponding author)

George A. Kardomateas

School of Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0150


The review outlines modern trends in theoretical developments, novel designs and modern
applications of sandwich structures. The most recent work published at the time of writing of this

review is considered, older sources are listed only on as-needed basis. The review begins with
the discussion on the analytical models and methods of analysis of sandwich structures as well as

representative problems utilizing or comparing these models. Novel designs of sandwich


structures is further elucidated concentrating on miscellaneous cores, introduction of nanotubes

and smart materials in the elements of a sandwich structure as well as using functionally graded

designs. Examples of problems experienced by developers and designers of sandwich structures,

including typical damage, response under miscellaneous loads, environmental effects and fire are
considered. Sample applications of sandwich structures included in the review concentrate on

aerospace, civil and marine engineering, electronics and biomedical areas. Finally, the authors

suggest a list of areas where they envision a pressing need in further research.

Keywords: Sandwich structures, C. Analytical modelling, B. Strength, Design



CFRP carbon fiber reinforced plastic

CUF Carrera unified formulation
EHSAPT extended high-order sandwich panel theory

ESL equivalent single layer model
FEA finite element analysis
FGM functionally graded material

FSDT first-order shear deformation theory
HSDT high-order shear deformation theory

LW layer-wise approach

1. Introduction
Sandwich structures can be defined as a subset of multilayered composite structures, optimized
for the anticipated lifetime loading conditions. A typical sandwich structure consists of the outer
facings and the core embedded between them. See for example, Fig. 1 below where two facings

are clearly identified. While in this figure, the sandwich structure has a tetrahedral truss core,
numerous alternative core designs have been employed, including foam, honeycomb, corrugated

core, various bio-inspired cores, etc. (see section 3.1 for details on the latest core design

developments). The facings are built of stiff and strong materials and they are much thinner than
the light and relatively compliant core. Accordingly, a typical sandwich structure is somewhat

similar to an I-beam where the flanges carry the lion share of bending and in-plane loads, while
the web sustains transverse shear, redistributes concentrated normal to the surface forces and
maintains the integrity of the structure. The thickness of the facings found in typical structural

applications seldom exceeds several millimeters, while the core may be over 50mm thick,

although usually it is thinner. Exceptions to the dimensions referred to here can be found, but
they seldom necessitate a development of an alternative theory for the analysis.

Neither the facings nor the core of a sandwich structure have to be homogeneous. While the
facings can consist of a single metallic layer, laminated or woven composite materials are also
broadly employed. The core designs are even more diverse, including honeycomb, cellular,


lattice and truss designs or web-reinforced options. The facing-core interface is often the most
vulnerable part of the sandwich structure. This interface is often bonded (e.g., graphite epoxy
facings joined to an aluminum honeycomb core). Alternatively, the facing-core interface can be
blended or functionally graded as is sometimes suggested for ceramic-metal sandwich structures.
The choice of sandwich materials depends on the function of the structure, lifetime loading,

availability and cost. Graphite-epoxy and carbon-epoxy multilayered facings are typical in
aerospace applications, while glass-epoxy or glass-vinyl ester are used in the facings of civil and

marine structures. The core of aerospace structures is often aluminum or Nomex honeycomb. In
civil engineering the core is often a closed-cell or open-cell foam, while balsa of various density

is a typical choice in ship sandwich structures.

Even though this review is concerned with the most recent developments in sandwich structures,
the major steps outlining the theory and analysis methodologies are listed to present a
comprehensive picture. Those include the books by Plantema [1], Allen [2], Zenkert [3] and
Vinson [4]. A comprehensive review of the studies of sandwich structures covering the early

developments was published by Noor, Burton and Bert [5]. Chai and Zhu reviewed research on
low-velocity impact of sandwich structures [6]. Non-destructive testing of thick composite and

sandwich structures was reviewed by Ibrahim [7] and Hsu [8]. The features and methods of
control of sandwich structures using magnetorheological and electrorheological fluids in the core

were reviewed in [9]. The analyses of bending, buckling and free vibrations of sandwich beams
using equivalent single layer theories, layerwise theories, zig-zag theories and exact elasticity

were outlined in [10]. Abrate and Di Sciuva presented a review of equivalent single layer
theories, including the classical, first, second and third order formulations, polynomial and non-

polynomial displacement methods [11]. Langdon et al. reviewed experimental and numerical
studies of sandwich structures subject to air blast [12]. Asymptotic methods of the

homogenization of composite and sandwich structures evaluating their effective properties were
considered by Kalamkarov et al. [13]. Acoustic response of sandwich panels was reviewed in
[14]. The recent book of Carlsson and Kardomateas provides an insight in the modern methods
of analysis and testing of sandwich structures [15].


The present review concentrates on the latest work on sandwich structures. Earlier work is
referenced only on as-needed basis. The review of such extensive field as sandwich structures
ought to be limited to selected subjects due to its multidisciplinary aspect and diverse range of
involved problems. In this review, we concentrate on the theoretical models and new designs and
applications of such structures and on observations of their behavior under a multitude of loads.

Such essential topics as manufacture or lifetime inspection are outside the scope of the review.

2. Analytical methods and representative verification studies

The studies of sandwich structures rely on a multitude of theories that monitor the behavior of
such structures undergoing mechanical and/or environmental loading. These theories invariably

begin with a formulation of kinematic relations that represent displacements throughout the
structure as functions of in-plane (beams or plates) or in-surface (shells) coordinates and the
thickness coordinate. The core of a sandwich structure is usually light and its shear stiffness is
low. Accordingly, neglecting transverse shear as is the case in technical theories of beams, plates

and shells becomes unacceptable for most of sandwich structures. Furthermore, the theories may
rely on the same kinematics throughout the thickness of the structure or apply different kinematic

formulations for different layers of the structure as is described below.


The core of a sandwich structure being lighter and more compliant than the facings, its modelling
often defines the theory employed in the analysis. In-plane stiffness of the core is often

neglected, so in the pioneering research of sandwich structures, the core was sometimes
modelled as a medium with zero in-plane stiffness, finite transverse shear stiffness and

incompressible in the thickness direction. Such approach has been employed in the first-order
and higher-order deformation theories (FSDT and HSDT, respectively) representing the in-plane

displacements in the core as polynomial (or other analytical) functions of the thickness
coordinate, while the through-the-thickness displacement was assumed constant throughout the
depth of the structure:

ui ( x1 , x2 , x3 ) = ∑ f j ( x1 , x2 ) g ij ( x3 ) , i = 1, 2, 3 (1)


where x1 and x2 are in-plane (plate) or in-surface (shell) coordinates, x3 is the thickness

coordinate perpendicular to the middle plane or middle surface and f j ( x1 , x2 ) , gij ( x3 ) are

functions chosen according to a particular theory. These functions must satisfy the requirement

of zero in-plane shear and zero normal stresses on the free surfaces of the structure, if the
structure is treated by the equivalent single layer (ESL) approach, i.e. a unique kinematics is

applied throughout the thickness. The stretching in the thickness direction is neglected if is
neglected if g3 j ( x3 ) = 1 .

The models employed to characterize sandwich structures were summarized in detail in the work
of Carrera that is sometimes referred to as “Carrera unified formulation” or CUF [16], [17] and

[18]. These articles also contain an excellent review of various methodologies and variations of
these theories that had been applied to the analysis of multilayered and sandwich structures. The
analytical approach can be reduced to the equivalent single layer model (ESL) that refers

kinematics of the structure to that of the middle surface and the layer-wise approach (LW) that
acknowledges the presence of several distinct layers in the structure, applies kinematic and

constitutive conditions to each layer and subsequently, fulfills the equilibrium conditions for the
entire structure as well as the continuity conditions at the interfaces between the layers. The latter

approach includes the zigzag theory referred to below. In the LW methods, equations (1) are
applied to every layer, kinematics being specified by enforcing the continuity inter-layer

conditions on displacements, their slopes or interfacial shear stresses. For example, the zigzag
theory enforces the continuity of the shear stresses at the interfaces, while violating the
continuity of the gradient of displacements across the interface. The majority of solutions

obtained by such popular and well-known theories as FSDT and HSDT are in the realm of ESL

since they represent the displacements throughout the entire thickness using one system of
kinematic relationships. FSDT and HSDT modelling is often used for structures with
honeycomb cores that possess high stiffness in the sandwich depth direction. Other cores have
also been modelled using these theories. Examples of recent papers employing FSDT and HSDT
in various aspects of sandwich structures are found in [19], [20]. Extensions of conventional


HSDT accounting for the in-plane and transverse flexibilities of the core have been actively
pursued (e.g., [21, 22]).

A possible generalization of the unified formulation was suggested by Demasi [23, 24] who
considered the approach where different variables can be described by different theories (ESL or

LW). In particular, this research included the solution where some of the variables could be
characterized by a zigzag ESL description, while others were modelled using an ESL model. The

previous study of the same author combined 13 HSDT, 13 zigzag and 13 LW theories into a
single FEA model [25]. A sublaminate formulation [26] subdivides the structure through the

thickness into sublaminates, such that each of them can be characterized by either ESL or LW
approach. A mixed LW/ESL approach was suggested in [27] where the transverse stresses were

characterized by LW but the displacements were introduced via ESL in the facings and via LW
at the sandwich scale. A refinement of layer-wise sandwich plate models was considered in [28].
In the zigzag theory referred to above, the choice of the displacement field through the thickness

is dictated by the requirement of the continuity of displacements and transverse shear stresses at
the interface between the layers of the structure, while accepting the slope discontinuities at the

interfaces. The refined zigzag theory where the displacement determined in each layer by FSDT
is supplemented by additional functions accounting for deformations of the cross section to

achieve a higher accuracy was introduced and employed in a number of investigations (e.g., [29-

Both ESL and LW approaches simplify the problem for a sandwich structure as refers to its

three-dimensional nature. However, due to the complexity of the three-dimensional solution,

even in the linear elastic formulation, the number of relevant papers is limited. Representative

elasticity solutions that were also employed as a benchmark for the comparison with advanced
high-order shear deformation theory (HSDT) have been published by Kardomateas et al. (e.g.,
[34-36]). Brischetto has recently published exact solutions for multilayered simply supported
shells, including sandwich structures, that are subjected to a harmonic load [37]. The exact
elasticity solution for free vibrations of spherical sandwich shells with a functionally graded
material (FGM) core that can be reduced to the cases of cylindrical shells or flat plates was also


developed in [38]. Giunto et al. [39] investigated the accuracy of several models considering
indentation failure of sandwich plates subject to loading applied over a limited surface area and
demonstrated that only LW models yield the results that are in a good agreement with the
benchmark Pagano exact elasticity solution. The authors attributed this deduction to prevalent
transverse shear and normal through-the-thickness stresses.

The model referred to as EHSAPT (the extended high-order sandwich panel theory) is

particularly useful in the case where a finite in-plane core rigidity should be considered, such as
medium to heavy mass density foam or wood or if the response of the panel is of the local nature.

It represents an extension of the HSDT model and employs the closed-form polynomial
displacement field distributions through the depth of the core. The transverse and in-plane

displacements in the core are represented by second-order and third-order polynomials of the
thickness coordinate, respectively. As a result, displacements at the middle plane of the core are
characterized by three generalized coordinates, including in-plane and transverse displacements
as well as the rotation of the core centroid. This theory has been applied to a number of

problems. In particular, Frostig [22] applied EHSAPT to the analysis of in-plane loads through
core, Phan et al. successfully compared the theory to the benchmark elasticity solutions and

studied buckling of sandwich panels [40, 41] and Phan et al. considered free vibrations [42].
Further examples of the application of EHSAPT to miscellaneous mechanical problems of

sandwich beams are found in [43] and [44].


The theory of homogenization of the material is also relevant to heterogeneous sandwich

structures, replacing heterogeneous solids with an equivalent homogeneous counterpart.

The method of asymptotic homogenization [45] was successfully applied to evaluate the
properties of sandwich shells with cellular cores of various geometry as well as smart sandwich

shells. The study [46] presents an asymptotic homogenization approach suitable for the analysis
of hexagonal honeycomb sandwich plates. The model results in a unit cell problem that can be
applied to the determination of closed-form expressions for the effective elastic coefficients of
the periodic cell. An extension to piezoelectric and piezomagnetic structures is also considered.


The following papers are listed as representative examples of the recent application of analytical
and numerical models of sandwich structures, including the benchmark elasticity solutions, ESL
and LW theories, higher-order theories and finite element method. In particular, free vibrations
of sandwich panels with compressible and incompressible cores were considered by a variety of
theories and compared to benchmark elasticity and finite element solutions in [42, 47]. The

comparison with benchmark solutions was favorable for lower vibration modes by all theories.
The Levy problem for free vibrations of sandwich shells and plates was considered by Dozio

using HSDT [48]. A LW analysis of free vibrations of sandwich beams with damping using the
classical lamination theory for the cross-ply facings and FSDT for the core was employed to both

evaluate natural frequency and specify the modal loss factors [49]. Vibrations and damping of
cylindrical sandwich panels containing a viscoelastic flexible core were analyzed using HSDT

and validated through a comparison with a LW approach solution [50]. This paper can be
considered in conjunction of the static analysis of cylindrical sandwich shells conducted by the
same authors [51, 52]. The effectiveness of cork layers as a damping treatment for sandwich
structures was demonstrated both numerically (FEA) and experimentally in [53]. This study

concentrated on sandwich plates with aluminum facings and cork compound cores. Impact
analysis of cylindrical sandwich shells subjected to impact was conducted by HSDT and

successfully compared to experimental data [54]. The solution was obtained by assumption that
the in-surface stiffness of the core was negligible. Accordingly, the facings were modelled by the

classical theory, while the displacements and stresses in the core were found from the theory of
elasticity. This approach has also been applied to other mechanical loading cases [55].

The layer-wise analysis of a geometrically nonlinear behavior of a sandwich beam with


viscoelastic core and elastic facings using FSDT theory for each layer was published in [56].
Guided wave propagation in composite and sandwich strips was considered using a LW

approach [57]. The waves were generated by a piezoelectric actuator, their monitoring is
potentially important in health monitoring applications. Static and dynamic problems of
sandwich plates were analyzed and favorably compared to the three-dimensional elasticity
benchmark solutions and FEA results using the refined zigzag theory [58], [59]. Brischetto
employed a LW approach to study free vibrations of cross-ply sandwich shells and plates [60].


The LW third-order shear deformation theory was employed in [61] to analyze delamination in
sandwich panels subject to slamming loads.

Frostig compared the shear buckling solutions for sandwich panels by FSDT and two HSDT
theories accounting for compressibility of the core, one of the latter theories also accounting for

in-plane rigidity of the core [62]. While all theories accurately predicted the critical loads, the
eigenmodes were more accurately predicted by the higher-order theories.

A comparison between several theories employed for the free vibration analysis of isotropic,

composite and sandwich cylindrical and spherical shell was presented in [63]. The compared
solution methods included two-dimensional and three-dimensional finite element formulations,

classical and refined 2D generalized differential quadrature methods and an exact three-
dimensional solution employing the LW approach, the integration of elastic dynamic equilibrium
equations and enforcing interlayer continuity conditions. A parametric analysis revealed some of
the trends affecting a difference between the solutions generated by different methods. A

comparison between various ESL and LW sandwich shell models is also presented in [64] and
[65] where several theories are formulated based on the general unified formulation by Carrera

(CUF). Low velocity impact of curved sandwich beams was investigated using LW and ESL
HSDT theories that were in a close agreement in [66]. High local radial stresses in the impact

area confirm the presence of a 3-D state in the vicinity to concentrated load points in a sandwich

Using a finite element analysis for the investigation of sandwich structures is always a potential

alternative to first-order and higher-order theories. As an example, Caliri et al. introduced a four-
node plate element based on Caliri’s generalization of the Carrera unified formulation (CUF) to

accurately trace the stresses throughout the thickness of the sandwich plate [67]. A meshless
formulation for sandwich plates using layer-wise HSDT and enforcing the continuity of in-plane
displacements and transverse shear stresses at the layer interfaces was suggested in [68]. Finite
element solutions based on Carrera’s unified formulation were considered for transverse
bending of sandwich plate and for both bending and vibrations of sandwich beams and plates
using a LW approach in [69, 70] and [71]. Both static and dynamic problems of sandwich plates


with a multilayered core were analyzed by a finite element method [72]. Liu et al. [73] analyzed
functionally graded sandwich double-curvature shells using a LW approach and a differential
quadrature finite element method (DQFEM). A LW FEA of static and dynamic problems for
sandwich plates using a layerwise/solid-element method where the facing were represented using
the four-node quadrilateral elements and the core was discretized using a LW approach and

eight-node solid elements was conducted in [74]. Dynamic response of sandwich beams
employing various versions of HSDT to model the core leading to a kriging-based finite

elements solution was considered in [75]. An application of the so-called “proper generalized
decomposition” displacement fields in a LW FEA formulation was pursued in [76]. A LW FEA

analysis of sandwich plates with a viscoelastic core was conducted by Ferreira et al. [77]. A
solid-shell eight-node hexahedral finite element capable of accounting for geometric and

physical nonlinearity of the sandwich structure was developed and experimentally verified in
Reducing the number of degrees of freedom in a FEA formulation was considered in [27] where

transverse stresses in composite facings were analyzed by the LW theory, displacements in the
facings were represented by the ESL approach, but the LW formulation was applied at the

sandwich, facing-core level. The effect of damping on the dynamic behavior of sandwich beams
with an aluminum foam core was considered using ABAQUS in [79]. The analysis of sandwich

plates subject to thermomechanical loading was conducted using FEA based on the Reissner
mixed variational formulation with continuous through-the-thickness transverse stresses and

zigzag displacement fields [80].


In conclusion of this section, modern developments in the modelling of sandwich structures

provide a reliable and proven foundation for the analysis of particular problems as well as design

applications. The models vary in complexity and accuracy, including a variety of ESL methods,
LW formulations and the extended higher-order theory that may be considered a variant of LW
methods. As new designs of sandwich structures, some of them discussed below, become
available, certain modifications of existing theories may be needed as well as an enhancement of
homogenization techniques. Nevertheless, the theory of sandwich structures is definitely a
mature and comprehensive tool available to researchers and engineers.


3. Novel designs and developments in sandwich structures

Examples of novel designs and latest developments in sandwich structures discussed below
include new and nontraditional core concepts, incorporation of nanotubes and smart materials in
sandwich structures and functionally graded sandwich applications.

3.1. Developments in non-traditional core concepts for sandwich structures

Truss-core and lattice-core sandwich research includes the study of the response of a carbon-

fiber truss-core structure with the rods oriented perpendicular to the facings in the broad
temperature range [81] where both the strength and stiffness were found deficient at high

temperature due to softening of the polymeric matrix, while the properties at cryogenic
temperatures were fully retained and improved compared to those at room temperature. Different
truss-core designs with pyramidal carbon-fiber truss cores have also been investigated. In
particular, the study of residual compressive strength after the exposure to an elevated

temperature revealed a reduction in the strength that was attributed to a degradation of the matrix
and fiber-matrix interface as well as formation of pores and development of cracks under high

temperature [82]. Torsional behavior of sandwich panels with pyramidal truss core was also
studied [83]. A performance of pyramidal core sandwich panels subject to aerodynamic heating

was compared to that of corrugated core counterparts [84]. Both the insulation and the strength
of the former panels were found superior to those with a corrugated core. An integrated thermal

protection system analyzed in [85] employs a lightweight C/SiC pyramidal core lattice with
alumina fibers filling in the core and may be potentially employed in hypersonic vehicles. The

effect of manufacturing-induced random damage in metallic sandwich plates with a pyramidal

truss core on its dynamic behavior was studied both by FEA as well as experimentally [86].

Panels with a tetrahedral core were manufactured using a novel hot-press molding method [87],
Fig. 1, and their compressive and shear response experimentally investigated. The effect of the
angle of the lattice struts on the crashworthiness of the core was experimentally studied [88].
Hollow tetrahedral truss cores manufactured from nanocrystalline nickel were successfully
compared to Nomex® honeycomb core counterparts [89].


Fig. 1. Composite sandwich panel with a tetrahedral truss core. From [87]. Reproduced with

permission from Elsevier.

Sandwich structures containing cores comprising of body centered cubic lattice cells were tested

to failure under three point bending. Two optimized functionally-graded core designs were
proposed based on lattice beam diameter tailoring and lattice cell spatial tailoring, respectively.
Both stiffness and strength of the optimized cores were significantly increased compared to the
uniform benchmark core. As expected, the greatest improvement in stiffness and strength was

seen in the spatially graded lattice core due to the greater number of design variables available
for optimization [90]. The optimum design of aluminum tetrahedral cores that is also applicable

to other types of truss core (pyramidal, Kagome) and to any other periodic core, such as

corrugated core, was considered by Dragoni [91].

Kagome core sandwich structures have also been investigated following the pioneering paper by

Wicks and Hutchinson [92]. Failure maps and performance of metallic sandwich panels with
four different types of core were considered in [93], including pyramidal, tetrahedral, Kagome

and X-type configurations (Fig. 2). It was found based on the analysis of global buckling, face

sheet buckling, face sheet yielding, core member buckling and core member yielding that the
latter two core classes (Kagome and X-type) outperformed the pyramidal and tetrahedral
counterparts. Superior performance of Kagome truss sandwich core structures has also been
confirmed in [94-96]. An example demonstrating superior energy absorption in Kagome truss
sandwich structures is presented in the Ashby plot in Fig. 3. The analytical approach to the
homogenization of a wire-woven Kagome core was suggested and compared to numerical and
experimental results [97]. An experimental comparison between lattice-truss core and isogrid

core sandwich cylinders demonstrated an advantage of the former in terms of compressive

strength as well as a higher fundamental frequency [98].


Fig. 2. Schematics of four sandwich panels with truss core (SPTC) configurations. From [93].
Reproduced with permission from Elsevier.



Fig. 3. Gravimetric energy absorption in compression (top) and shear (bottom). From [94].
Reproduced with permission from Elsevier.

The interest in sandwich decks in bridge engineering generated a need in robust core designs
with significant strength, energy absorption and damage tolerance. A new type of sandwich deck
panels that has recently been considered employs truss cores filled with a polyurethane foam [99-
103]. Three core configurations were compared yielding the optimum design (Fig. 4). The

optimum core guarantees high strength and stiffness as well as damage tolerance and energy
absorption of the sandwich structure.

Ceramic “corrugated core” sandwich structures that are a class of truss-core designs and can be

employed in high temperature applications have been manufactured, tested and analyzed [104].
Sandwich panels with a corrugated steel core used for bridge decks were also considered in

[105]. AN

Fig. 4. Three cores compared in [99-103] included (a): high density polyurethane foam, (b):
trapezoidal low density polyurethane foam with mat reinforcement and (c): web-core foam with
mat reinforcement (top figure). The most efficient design was (b), the specimen prepared for
testing are shown in the bottom picture. From [103] and [100]. Reproduced with permission
from Elsevier.


A comparison between the response of paper sandwich panels with three types of a corrugated
core, i.e. arctangent, wavy trapezoidal and hemispherical cores, was presented using nonlinear
FEA and experiments [106]. The panels with a hemispherical core exhibit a better response
under both crush compression and shear loads. The other study of mechanics of corrugated core
panels was concerned with the formation of wrinkles under compression [107]. In this study, a

continuum damage model was used to trace the onset of damage and the development of strains
in the wrinkled regions of the panel. Global and local buckling of corrugated core sandwich

panels was investigated accounting for nonlinear effects in [108]. The study of torsional stiffness
and twist response of sandwich corrugated core single and double walled plates was conducted

by FSDT and FEA [109], the former theory found sufficiently accurate for the characterization
of such structures.

Considering other classes of core design, the behavior of grid-scored sandwich panels where the
core material is cut in small blocks that are attached to a career fabric to fit a complicated
structure geometry modelling innovative wind turbine blades was presented in [110, 111]. In

particular, a criterion for the onset of failure in the resin grid was suggested and found in a good
agreement with experiments.

Various mechanical, thermal and fatigue problems were considered for sandwich structures with

ceramic tile core sections (Fig. 5) revealing the mode of damage associated with debonds at the
gaps between tiles [112-114]. The sandwich beam with the core consisting of discrete tiles and

subject to three-point bending was analyzed both numerically using a LW approach and a
customary FEA as well as by a standard FEA [115]. Predictably, the gaps between the solid

blocks of the tile core caused a stress concertation in the facings and high stresses in the adhesive
layers between the facings and core that could be somewhat reduced by filling the gaps. Local

effects around the junction between the sections of different core materials, e.g. polymer foams
of different mass density, and the associated fracture and fatigue damage were investigated in


Fig. 5. Sandwich panel with discrete tile core (top figure) and schematics of three-point bending
test. From [115]. Reproduced with permission from Elsevier.

Energy absorption of coconut mesocarp core sandwich structures with glass/epoxy and
carbon/epoxy facings was experimentally studied in [117] utilizing the high energy absorption in

the grain direction. Using a mesocarp core serves as an example of a bioinspired material in


Besides conventional foam and honeycomb core sandwich structures, developments utilizing
auxetic cores with a negative Poisson ratio have been investigated due to the potential for higher
stiffness and toughness. In particular, morphing origami sandwich structures have recently been

suggested [118]. Fisher developed an aluminum folded core resembling origami configurations

[119]. Rapidly deployable shelters, which can be packaged small but offer a high volume
expansion ratio, are a critical asset for the military forward operating bases and can also be
effective for the disaster relief. Origami-inspired deployable light-weight shelters utilizing easy
packaging of foldable origami cores were suggested in [120].

Kirigami sandwich structures with the graded origami core consisting of fold and valleys as well
as ply cuts have been investigated for sandwich applications [121] and demonstrated a potential

for a significant impact energy absorption. Doubly curved configurations, such as deployable
domes and folded cores aircraft applications, were identified as potential application areas of this
class of structures [122]. Four different Kirigami sandwich cores were compared in [123] where
it was shown that two of them, diamond strip and cube strip, offer a high energy absorption
capacity and out-of-plane crushing strength. The application of these Kirigami patterns to space

frame and to hierarchical folded sandwich structures with the extended range of folded geometric
envelopes was suggested [124].

Graded honeycomb Kirigami cores considered in [125] consisted of a conventional hexagonal

section and a re-entrant butterfly-type Kirigami section that possessed a negative Poisson ratio.
Experiments including flatwise and edgewise compression, and edgewise impact were conducted
demonstrating advantages offered by such graded core. Zero Poisson ratio Kirigami honeycomb

sandwich PEEK structures were also manufactured using thermoforming technique and tested

The advantages of Kirigami and origami core sandwich structures do not come without certain

vulnerabilities. For example, a recent experimental and FEA study of origami core sandwich
structures demonstrated their vulnerability at the folded edges (creases lines) [127].

A comparative study of in-plane uniaxial compression response of regular honeycomb, re-entrant


auxetic honeycomb with a negative Poisson ratio, locally reinforced auxetic-strut structure and a
hybrid structure combining regular honeycomb and auxetic-strut structure (Fig. 6) was

performed [128] demonstrating the advantage of the latter design. The compressive strength was
increased three-fold as compared to that of the honeycomb sandwich panel and by 65%
compared to the auxetic counterpart. A comparison between crashworthiness of sandwich panels

with four different cores including expanded polypropylene foam, aluminum honeycomb, rubber

foam balls and plastic hollow balls was conducted in [129]. The energy absorption was found
notably different for static compression and dynamic low-velocity impact. While aluminum
honeycomb core ensured a desirable response in both static and dynamic cases, the core filled
with plastic balls was also efficient in the former case, but foam filled core appeared more
competitive in the latter case.


The effect of filling aluminum honeycomb core with expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam on
crashworthiness of sandwich panels in out-of-plane and in-plane compression tests was
considered in [130]. It was shown that filling the core with foam significantly increases the peak
strength, mean crushing strength and energy absorption. However, the effect of foam density on
the specific energy absorption was negligible.

In a recent paper [131] impact resistance of sandwich panels with auxetic lattice core was

investigated modelling the response of the material at high strain rates by the Johnson-Cook


Fig. 6. Cell designs: (a) Honeycomb, (b) Re-entrant honeycomb, (c) Auxetic-strut, (d) and (e)
Auxetic honeycomb designs. From [128]. Reproduced with permission from Elsevier.

An interest to lattice core sandwich structures operating in a high-temperature environment


motivated a development of lattices with a tailorable coefficient of thermal expansion [132, 133].
In particular, it was demonstrated in the latter paper on the example of six planar lattices of
multi-fold rotational symmetry that it is possible to design the product possessing both high
specific stiffness as well as zero or negative coefficients of thermal expansion.


Pyramidal lattice core sandwich panel fabricated from ceramic matrix C/SiC composite were
developed and capable of withstanding very high temperatures, up to 1600°C [85, 134-136].
Among interesting findings reported in this papers, the specific strength and specific stiffness of
C/SiC sandwich panels were found superior to of the ZrO2 counterpart. A combination of high
temperature resistance, lightweight characteristic and robust mechanical properties of C/SiC

lattice core sandwich panels reported in the papers lead to the conclusion that they are very
attractive candidates for aerospace applications, such as thermal protection systems.

Among other studies, the changes in the thickness of web-core sandwich plates subject to

compression were experimentally investigated in [137] and found significant in the post-
buckling phase. Out-of-plane tensile performance of sandwich structures with perforated and

stitched core was found superior to counterparts with conventional cores [138]. The stiffness of
sandwich panels with Kraft paper honeycomb core and medium density fireboard facings was
numerically studied in [139] where it was found that a decrease in the ratio of the thickness of
the core to the thickness of a facing increased the bending and shear stiffness.

“Composite” cores combining honeycomb and a regular grid represent an interesting


development with a potential of increasing strength, stiffness and toughness of sandwich

structures. Mentioned here is the recent paper [140] where a cellular aluminum honeycomb was

combined with aluminum flat bars forming a grid. Experimental and numerical analyses
demonstrated that the sandwich panel with such composite core had a superior in-plane

compressive stiffness and energy absorption compared to counterparts with either grid or
honeycomb cores.

Bio-inspired sandwich structures have recently been studied drawing on the examples in biology,

such as turtle shell and beetle forewings, to develop efficient engineering designs. For example,
crashworthiness of aluminum honeycomb carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) facing
sandwich panels was experimentally and numerically investigated [141] demonstrating superior
energy absorption as compared to bare CFRP panels. A double-sine bi-directionally corrugated
sandwich panel (Fig. 7) exhibited excellent crashworthiness and a significantly reduced peak
force under out-of-plane quasi-static compression as compared to convention al triangular and


sinusoidal corrugated core counterparts [142]. The source of bio-inspired core shown in Fig. 7 is
evident from the CT scan of the thick pitch-graded layer of in the dactyl of a peacock mantis
shrimp (right part of Fig. 7) that provides a superb strength and energy absorption capacity.
Low-velocity impact response of woodpecker's head-inspired sandwich beam with CFRP facings
and rubber and aluminum honeycomb cores (rubber layer over the aluminum honeycomb layer)

was considered in [143] where the proposed design resulted in a several-fold improvement
compared to conventional counterparts.

Square tubes with a filler represent an energy absorbing structure that expands the sandwich

concept to dampers. The principal function of a compliant filler is to facilitate the absorption of
energy. This concept was investigated under quasi-static axial crushing, lateral planar crush and

lateral bending for carbon fiber reinforced plastic tubes filled with aluminum honeycomb in
[144] and [145]. In particular, under axial crushing, the peak load and absorbed energy of the
filled tubes were increased by over 10% compared to otherwise identical hollow tubes. The
energy absorbed and specific energy absorption of the filled tubes experiencing lateral crushing

could be increased by factors of 6.56 and 4.0, respectively, compared to the corresponding
characteristics in the hollow tubes without fillings. The improvements in specific energy

absorption were smaller in case of lateral bending, though the energy absorption still showed a
32% increase in filled specimens.

Fig. 7. Bio-inspired bi-directionally corrugated sandwich panel (left) and a CT scanning of a

dactyl club section (right). From [142]. Reproduced by permission of Elsevier.


In general, recent research on novel core designs of sandwich structures has demonstrated a
potential for new and innovative cores that can be advantageous compared to more conventional
designs (e.g., honeycomb or cellular cores) in numerous applications. While the ease of
manufacture and accurate modeling of structures incorporating new cores may present a

problem, the latest publications have reflected significant progress fully justifying further
research on such innovative designs and their eventual introduction in practical engineering


3.2. Nanoinclusions in sandwich structures (nanotubes and nanoparticles)

A considerable interest in using nanotubes and nanoinclusions to enhance the properties of
structures yielded thousands of papers, some of them concerned with sandwich structures. In this
section we reference recent static and dynamic studies of these structures, reflecting on a broad
variety of addressed problems.

Brischetto and Carrera considered the effect of nanoscale reinforcements on the static response

of sandwich plates and shells subject to pressure [146, 147]. Two classes of reinforcements
considered included clay platelets and carbon nanotubes. The solutions by the classical

lamination theory, FSDT and the advance mixed-model method where the displacements can be
modelled using either an ESL or LW approach, while transverse stresses are evaluated using a

LW approach demonstrated the advantages of the latter method as well as the effectiveness of
nanoscale reinforcements.

The effect of adding SiC nanoparticles to polyurethane foam core of sandwich structures was

experimentally studied in [148]. While mechanical properties of the core were enhanced by
adding nanoparticles, the fracture toughness of the foam core was reduced. At SiC particle
concentrations the interface crack propagated in the core, but the path changed at a lower
concentration, so that the crack remained in the vicinity to the facing-core interface.


A three-layer sandwich structure consisting of polymer multi-walled carbon nanotube reinforced

composites was proposed and experimentally investigated in [149] demonstrating both a
satisfactory mechanical performance and a high electromagnetic interference shielding
effectiveness. Sandwich microwave absorbers were considered in [150] combining
nanocomposite and honeycomb layers and producing a broad-wave absorber. A sandwich

structure designed for a maximum radar absorption and consisting of a carbon nanotube
composite facing, polymethacrylimide foam core and a carbon-epoxy composite reflector facing

was designed, produced and assessed in [151].

An axisymmetric problem of buckling of a variable thickness circular sandwich plate with
functionally graded multi-walled nanotube reinforced facings and a polymer core subjected to

radial compression was analyzed using FSDT in [152]. Interfacial fracture toughness of
sandwich glass/fiber facing, polyvinyl-chloride foam core composites was markedly improved
by adding multi-walled carbon nanotubes dispersed in the epoxy resin using a sonicator [153]. In
particular, the increases in the peak load-carrying capacity and in fracture toughness achieved by

adding 1.5% weight fraction of nanotubes were 14.4% and 34%, respectively.

The effectiveness of the impregnation of the polyurethane foam core of sandwich plates with
nanoparticles was considered in [154]. The Mori-Tanaka and self-consistent methods were

employed to evaluate the gain in stiffness associated with the introduction of nanoparticles, while
the potentially detrimental effect on the strength was studied using the Goodier solution for

dilute and the Mori-Tanaka theory for the finite particle concentrations.

Free vibrations of sandwich plates with functionally graded nanotube reinforcements subject to
an elevated temperature were analyzed utilizing HSDT in [155], [156] and [157]. Both free

vibrations as well as buckling of sandwich beams with functionally graded nanotube reinforced
facings were considered by FSDT in [158]. Vibrations of a sandwich plate with carbon nanotube
reinforced facings and a compliant core subjected to a combination of a magnetic field and
temperature were analyzed [159] using a HSDT and accounting for the effect of temperature on
the material properties. The study of free vibrations of carbon nanoparticle reinforced
functionally graded sandwich beams, including the micromechanical analysis that employed the


Mori-Tanaka method was presented in [160]. Both free vibrations and static bending of sandwich
plates with carbon nanotube reinforced facings were numerically studied by FEA utilizing HSDT
[161]. Geometrically nonlinear vibration and bending problems of sandwich plates with
nanotube reinforced facings subjected to an elevated temperature and supported by a Pasternak
elastic foundation were considered using HSDT in [162].

Nonlinear vibrations of doubly curved sandwich shells with carbon/epoxy facings where the

carbon fibers are reinforced with nanotubes grown on their surface were considered in [163]. In
addition to nanotubes, vibrations were controlled through an active constrained layer

representing a constrained viscoelastic layer sandwiched between the host structure and the
constraining piezoelectric fibers.

Kolahchi et al. considered wave propagation in a sandwich plate with polymeric nanotube-
reinforced core and piezoelectric facings employed as an actuator and a sensor using a zigzag
theory [164]. Multi-walled nanotubes embedded in the facings of sandwich plates subject to a

low-velocity impact improved the energy absorption and damage tolerance both in the
experimental work [165] and in the analytical HSDT study [166]. Using nanoparticles for

alleviation of the effect of a low-velocity impact in sandwich panels was experimentally

investigated in [167] adding an acrylate triblock copolymer nanoinclusions to the epoxy matrix.

Nanotubes have also been shown beneficial reinforcing brittle resin epoxy cores in sandwich
panels undergoing explosive blast [168].

Dynamic transient behavior of sandwich beams with carbon nanotube reinforced facings and a

soft core was considered extending the high order sandwich panel theory (EHSAPT) to the case
of a dynamic loading [169]. Dynamic buckling of sandwich spherical caps with carbon nanotube

reinforced facings undergoing a suddenly applied axisymmetric load and dynamic instability of
such caps subject to an aperiodic load were investigated by FEA in [170] and [171], respectively.
Snap-through of a sandwich beam with functionally graded or uniformly distributed nanotube
reinforced facings undergoing a combination of pressure and thermal loading were considered by
FSDT [172] accounting for geometric nonlinearity. Nonlocal piezo-magneto-elastic formulation


for sandwich nanoplates containing a nanocore and integrated piezo-magnetic facings was
developed and applied to the dynamic analysis in [173].

A supersonic flutter of doubly curved sandwich panels with nanotube reinforced facings was
numerically investigated using FEA based on a zigzag HSDT approach [174]. The other practical

application of nanotubes in aerospace sandwich structures is tail buffeting. In particular, the
effectiveness of nanotubes preventing tail buffeting of a sandwich rudder of a business jet built

of carbon/epoxy nanotube reinforced facings and a honeycomb core was demonstrated in [175].

The list of publications on nanoinclusion and nanotube applications in sandwich structures can
be expanded, the references listed above being the latest in this area at the time of writing this

review. Almost all aspects of mechanical and thermomechanical response of a sandwich
structure can be enhanced through the introduction of nanoreinforcements. Even though a
mismatch in the properties of nanotubes and core or facing materials may in theory cause
microcracking during the manufacturing process or during lifetime, apparently such damage does

not significantly affect the performance of structures.


3.3. Application of smart materials in sandwich structures


While the definition of so-called smart materials is rather vague, a reasonable reference to these
materials is that they exhibit a type of behavior that is not found in conventionally used isotropic

and composite counterparts. The areas of practical or suggested applications of smart materials
are diverse. Examples of such materials include piezoelectrics, shape memory alloys,

electrorheological and magnetorheological fluids, etc. The use of piezoelectric, shape memory
alloy and other smart materials has been actively pursued since the end of the eighties.

Nowadays, such materials are included in the models of sandwich structures to achieve passive
or active control or with the purpose of sensing.

The analysis of sandwich plates with a metallic core and outer metal-ceramic functionally graded
or piezoelectric layers using B-spline finite strip element models and based on first-order and
higher-order shear deformation theories was presented [176]. The homogenization adopted in


this paper employed the Mori-Tanaka scheme that is acceptable if the volume fraction of
inclusions remains below about 35%. An improved version of the zigzag theory was applied to
monitor the response of cylindrical sandwich shells including piezoelectric layers to thermal and
electrical loading [177] and using the heat conduction solution to model a distribution of
temperature through the thickness of the shell.

A FEA formulation applied to forced and free vibrations of sandwich beams with piezoelectric

layers accounting for both electric transverse strains and transverse flexibility effects was
presented in [178, 179]. Using an active constraining layer employing oblique or vertical 1-3

piezoelectric fibers to control vibrations of functionally graded sandwich plates was analyzed in
[180]. Using patches of a constraining layer with 1-3 piezoelectric material for active damping of

vibrations of sandwich beams was also studied [181].
A three-dimensional piezoelastic formulation was employed to characterize a viscoacoustic
response of a hollow radially polarized spherical shell in an ideal compressible fluid [182]. The

solution was applied to a sandwich shell with piezoelectric facings and steel core.

A potential detrimental effect of embedding piezoelectric sensors in the facings of a sandwich

structure that is due to a mismatch in the properties of piezoelectric and facing materials was

considered in [183]. In the experiments, it was found that while the fatigue life is little affected
by the presence of sensors, there was a reduction in the strength limited to several percentage

points. The use of embedded piezoelectric sensors for health monitoring of laminated and
sandwich structures was also reported in [184] where the incorporation of sensors resulted in a

small degradation in mechanical properties.


A nonlinear dynamic analysis of sandwich plates with shape memory alloy wires embedded in
the facings that were modelled by the Brinson constitutive method was considered using
Carrera’s unified formulation and a mixed LW/ESL approach [185], [186]. Free vibrations and
buckling problems in cylindrical sandwich panels with a magnetorheological fluid layer were
studied employing HSDT [187].


Active-passive controlled structures are often included in the family of smart structures.
Optimization of modal loss factors of active-passive sandwich plates with active elastic
constrained damping layers and a viscoelastic core using the thickness and laminate layer
orientation angles as design variables was conducted using a LW finite element model in [188].
The study aimed at determining the location of a prescribed number of sensors and actuators

necessary to maximize the loss factor. The previous optimization work [189] also concerned with
sandwich plates with a viscoelastic core was confined to optimization of passive damping using a

HSDT for the core and FSDT for the facings in the framework of a LW FEA formulation.

3.4. Functionally graded sandwich structures

Functionally graded materials have been actively investigated in almost all areas of structural
analysis and design. In sandwich structures, grading is usually employed in the core as well as at
the facing-core interface.

Historically, one of the first studies of the three-layered sandwich system with the FGM core was
proposed by Pitakthapanaphong and Busso [190]. Both thermoelastic as well as thermoplastic

behavior were considered in this paper. Following this study, stability, vibrations and buckling of
sandwich conical and cylindrical shells with functionally graded core and coatings were

considered by Sofiyev [191-196] (see, Sofiyev et al. [2-6] and Deniz [7]). The latest studies
of stability and dynamics of shear-deformable functionally graded conical shells by the Sofiyev

and his colleagues include [197-204]. A pioneering research of dynamic instability of sandwich
cylindrical shells with a FGM core was performed by Sofiyev and Kuruoglu [205]. In this study,

Ambartsumian's first order shear deformation theory (FSDT) was modified for a sandwich
cylindrical shell with a FGM core. Subsequently, Sofiyev, Hui and their colleagues addressed the

problems of stability, free and parametric vibrations of sandwich cylindrical shells containing the
FGM core and coatings in the framework of FSDT in different environments [206-208].

The effectiveness of functional grading of the core of a tapered sandwich beam in the axial
direction was considered using a FSDT geometrically nonlinear approach in [209]. The effect of


elastic edge restraint on axisymmetric static bending of annular sandwich plates with a FGM
core was studied in [210].

The beneficial effect of a functionally graded core preventing wrinkling in sandwich structures
was considered for both a layer-wise core analyzed using the theory of elasticity approach and

for a core with a continuous through the thickness grading by a modified Hoff method [211]. A
significant increase in the wrinkling load was achieved by concentrating stiffer core adjacent to

the loaded facing, without an appreciative detrimental effect on the weight of the structure.
While an elevated temperature caused a decrease in the wrinkling stresses, the benefits of

functional grading was preserved. The subsequent study demonstrated that even though the
wrinkling load is reduced in case of a biaxial compression and, to a lesser degree, in-plane shear,

functionally graded plates retain the advantages over equal-weight counterparts with a
homogeneous core [212].
Thermal buckling of a FGM sandwich panel was considered by both first-order and higher-order

shear deformation theories using the rule of mixtures to specify the local material properties
dependent on the volume fractions of constituent materials [213]. Thermomechanical problems

of FGM sandwich microplates were considered in [214].


Free vibrations of cylindrical sandwich shells that were functionally graded in the thickness
direction were studied in [215]. The properties of the core were represented by power functions

of the radial coordinate. The shell was subdivided into thin layers of constant properties enabling
the exact solution by the theory of elasticity. A LW finite element formulation accounting for the

through-the-thickness deformations in the core of a sandwich panel was developed and applied
to both static and dynamic analyses [216]. Both bending and free vibrations of a sandwich plate

with FGM core were considered employing a finite element analysis in [217]. The analytical
solution for free vibrations of sandwich plates with functionally graded cores was suggested in
[218] using a modified Ritz analysis and representing displacements in series of Chebyshev
polynomials. In this paper, the rule of mixtures was employed to determine the properties of the
FGM core.


Free vibrations of spherical and cylindrical sandwich shells with FGM cores were considered in
[219] using a generalized differential quadrature method. Blast response of sandwich plates with
FGM ceramic-metal facings was considered using HSDT in [220]. Blast damage in sandwich
structures with a layerwise density graded core was experimentally investigated and the
advantages of grading demonstrated [221].

Miscellaneous problems of static and dynamic behavior of functionally graded sandwich plates

resting on an elastic foundation were analyzed in [222-224]. Experimental work conducted on E-
glass facing, layer-wise graded PVC foam core flat and curved panels demonstrated potential

advantages of grading in preventing impact damage [225].

Neves et al. [226] presented explicit governing equations for statics and dynamics of FGM
sandwich plates using a higher-order shear deformation theory where in-plane and through-the-
thickness displacements were represented by cubic and quadratic polynomials of the thickness
coordinate, respectively. The solutions utilizing Carrera’s Unified Formulation were shown for

both static as well as free vibration problems, including buckling. Brischetto presented an
elasticity solution for natural frequencies of various classes of sandwich structures representing

them by a number of layers, each layer having constant properties, resulting in constant
coefficients in the corresponding equations of motion [227].

While functional grading of sandwich structures is usually considered in the framework of


through-the-thickness variations of the constituent material concentration, the variations of

geometry using stepped-wise facings changing from the center to the edges was also studied

[228, 229].

Introducing a chopped fiber mat between the core and facings may also be considered as a form
of functional grading. Such modification of the facing-core interface can significantly enhance
the impact toughness, flexural strength and energy absorption of the structure [230].


4. Sample problems in analysis and design of sandwich structures

4.1. Damage in sandwich structures

Extensive studies are conducted on damage in sandwich structures, including the conditions for

damage onset, detection, propagation and mitigation. Modes I and II strain energy release rate at
the facing-core interface in sandwich structures employed in wind turbines was experimentally

investigated [231]. Different core VaRTM (vacuum assisted resin transfer molding) machining
patterns were compared to maximize the interfacial facing-core fracture toughness [232]. High-

sped infrared thermography was considered for monitoring the interfacial fracture toughness in
sandwich structures by monitoring temperature variations at the front of the crack [233]. The

mode of fracture in sandwich structures depends on the stiffness of the core. This was
demonstrated in the paper [234] where the mixed-mode fracture crack propagated in a relatively
compliant core (Divinycell H45), but delamination cracking occurred between the facing and the
adjacent resin-rich layer of the core in the structure with a stiffer core (Divinycell H45). Mode III

delamination fracture in sandwich plates was studied experimentally and by FEA in [235].

A methodology for the detection of interfacial cracks in sandwich structures using high speed
infrared thermography to trace the changes in temperature during the crack growth was proposed

and verified on the specimens with E-glass/epoxy facings and a PVC foam core in [233]. Using
sandwich double cantilever beams for the characterization of fracture in the foam has also been

reported (e.g., [236]). Three different U-shape “peel-stoppers” that could be effective arresting
fracture and fatigue damage were discussed and successfully tested [237].

An efficient method of fatigue testing of sandwich structures using a computer software to


control the testing apparatus and called G-control method since it enables keeping constant
energy release rate was discussed in recent papers [238, 239]. Fatigue of sandwich beams with
carbon fiber polymer matrix facings and Nomex core was also experimentally investigated using
accelerated testing techniques [240]. A transition of the fatigue failure mode in sandwich beams
from the core shear to the facing tensile failure dependent on the amplitude of the load were
experimentally observed [241]. Fatigue cracks in specimens with Divinycell H45 core grew


along the facing-core interface, while in the specimens with a much stiffer H100 core the crack
deviated into the core or in the facing dependent on the mode mixity at the tip [242]. Fatigue in
damaged honeycomb core sandwich panels was considered in [243] where it was demonstrated
that in sandwich panels with Brinell or drilling holes, the lifetime of the specimens loaded in the
L configuration is longer than that for the counterparts loaded in the W direction (here L and W

directions refer to the directions defined for a hexagonal core, as shown in the article).

Among the studies on the manufacturing damage, significant effect of wrinkles acquired during
the manufacture process on fatigue of glass/epoxy facing balsa core sandwich beams was found

in experiments [244]. In particular, a wrinkle could reduce fatigue life of a specimen by two
thirds as compared to the counterparts without such mode of damage. The effect of manufacture-

acquired wrinkles on statically compressed sandwich panels was also studied [245].
Frostig and Thomsen [22] investigated a thermomechanical response of a delaminated curved
sandwich panel with a delamination crack at one of the facing-core interfaces. The response was

prominently nonlinear, exhibiting a limit point and significant stress concentrations at the tips of
the delamination and near the supports. The energy release rate and the mode mixity in a

sandwich beam with dissimilar facings and a facing-core debond were derived in a closed form
[246] extending the known solutions for a delamination in a homogeneous composite and an

interfacial crack between two solids. Debonding between the facings and core under mixed-
mode loading was experimentally studied in [247] where Mode II loading was found to enhance

the fracture toughness of the interface.


Using z-pins can improve the load capacity and energy absorption of the sandwich structure. In
particular, it was demonstrated that the compressive strength of a sandwich composite can be

increased by up to 700% using z-pins perpendicular to the surface of the component to alleviate
the core crushing [248]. In the same paper, using z-pins the absorbed compressive strain energy
was increased by more than 600%. Impact damage and residual compressive strength and
stiffness of z-pinned sandwich composites were considered in the subsequent study [249]. The
absorbed energy of z-pinned specimens increased by 260-300% compared to otherwise identical
specimens without z-pins, but the extent of local damage in the impacted region was not


affected. There was no significant improvement in the residual strength and stiffness of the
structure. Using of z-pins to alleviate fracture in sandwich composite T-joints was considered in
[250] reinforcing cleats connecting the vertical and horizontal structural elements. Both the
fracture load as well as the fracture energy were increased since z-pins resisted crack propagation
along the cleat-facing and facing-core interfaces. A composite wing with z-pin reinforced core

sandwich panels was considered in [251].

Stitching or tufting are techniques that can improve the damage resistance and load capacity of
sandwich structures. Sandwich C/SiC panels with a stitched lattice core possess high out-of-

plane compressive strength and stiffness [252]. Improvement in mechanical properties using core
perforation and stitching were investigated in [138, 253]. The interfacial fracture toughness of

stitched sandwich specimen was improved compared to unstitched counterparts [254]. Tufting
using through-the thickness aramid fibers was found effective in improving the in-plane impact
crushing response of sandwich structures through the better facing-to-core adhesion [255]. In
experiments reported in this paper, tufting nearly doubled the specific energy absorption.

Damage detection in sandwich structures is paramount for their application in industry. For

example, a 10 MHz ultrasonic 128 elements phased array transducer was successfully used to
detect and size defects in sandwich honeycomb composite structures [256]. Random defects in

the facing-to-core welds were found surprisingly detrimental to the strength of hexagonal cell
aluminum honeycomb sandwich panels [257]: even defects in 1% of the weld length reduced the

out-of-plane tensile failure strain by more than 50%.


4.2. Miscellaneous loading conditions


Static and dynamic response of sandwich structures has been investigated in hundreds of recent
papers, considering both miscellaneous design issues as well as employing various sandwich
model theories. Accordingly, only sample problems and solutions are outlined in this section,
aiming to reflect the broad spectrum of modern studies. For example, both static and dynamic
response of sandwich beams was studied, accounting for the strain-rate effect [258]. Both quasi-
static and dynamic compressive response of sandwich structures with a corrugated core was


experimentally investigated [259]. Crushing of tufted sandwich coupons with an emphasis on the
tuft density and length of loops was considered [260]. Flexural-torsional behavior of a
functionally graded metal-ceramic sandwich I-beam was investigated in [261]. The failure of a
sandwich panel undergoing an in-plane axial impact was both experimentally and numerically
investigated [262].

Thermal buckling of sandwich plates was analyzed by assumption that temperature does not

affect the properties of the sandwich materials [263]. Both buckling and vibrations of a metal
sandwich beam with a corrugated core and facings were analyzed [264]. Solutions of buckling

and wrinkling problems for sandwich plates using several analytical models and the Sublaminate
Generalized Unified Formulation have been published in [265].

A sandwich specimen subject to twist by two concentrated forces applied at the corners was
considered in [266] where a semi-empirical shear correction factor was determined to account
for the effect of transverse shear on the compliance in the framework of the classical theory

expanding the previous model of the test [267]. Elasto-plastic behavior of cylindrical sandwich
shells undergoing static loading was numerically investigated using the differential quadrature

method [268].

Bolt insert pull-out and flat-wise tension tests were performed on a Nomex™ honeycomb
sandwich structure to predict the buckling load of the honeycomb core [269]. The finite element

simulation utilizing pull-out displacement steps of 0.01 mm was compared with experimental
results and found satisfactory both predicting the onset of stiffness decay as well as specifying

the buckling load for the honeycomb.


Creep of sandwich panels with web-reinforced corers was experimentally studied in [270]. A
low-velocity impact of clamped sandwich beams with multiple metal cores was considered in
[271]. Damping mechanisms in elastic-viscoelastic-elastic sandwich beams consisting of
constraining and viscoelastic layers and a base layer were numerically and experimentally
investigated [272].


From a designer point of view, failure maps of a sandwich structure predicting its failure under
prescribed loading conditions would be very useful. For example, Vitale et al. considered and
validated such maps for three-point bending of sandwich beams [273]. The analyzed modes for
various beam materials included core shear, core crushing, face wrinkling, face yielding and
face-sheet debonding. Core crushing was the dominant failure mode, except for the case of the

beams with a jute reinforced polyester core and jute reinforced facing that failed by face

Underwater blast tests of sandwich panels with aluminum facings and a honeycomb core were

reported [274]. Failure modes in composite panels undergoing an underwater blast loading and
accounting for the fluid-structure interaction were considered in [275]. A numerical study of

blast resistance of sandwich panels considering of five different core patterns formed by
honeycomb and variously cut strips of honeycomb forming woven configurations, as well as the
effect of sand filling of the core demonstrated that the energy dissipation can be doubled by an
appropriate choice of the design [276]. An optimization of sandwich structures to maximize their

blast mitigation was presented in [277].


Damage in aluminum foam core sandwich structures subject to a low-velocity impact was
experimentally and analytically investigated in [278]. An underwater impulse loading of

cylindrical sandwich structures was experimentally and numerically studied [279]. Sandwich
panels with a wire-reinforced cellular core subject to a ballistic impact by steel projectiles at the

speeds in the range from 250 to 450 m/s were considered clearly demonstrating the advantages
of a higher density of wire reinforcements [280].

Slamming of marine sandwich structures consisting of polymeric skins and PVC foam cores was

experimentally and numerically analyzed in [281] and in an earlier study considering several
cores [282]. The response of sandwich ship structures to slamming as well as possible design
modifications to withstand this load have been considered in several recent studies [283], [284],


4.3. Effects of environment (temperature, moisture)

Bending of a sandwich beam subject to a three-point bending with a nonuniform through-the-

thickness temperature was analyzed using FSDT modified to account for the degradation of the
core properties due to temperature in [286]. The analytical results were successfully compared to

experimental data confirming a uniform distribution of the transverse shear stress through the
thickness of the core, as assumed in FSDT; the natural conclusion was that the failure of the core

originates at the region experiencing the highest temperature. The response of sandwich beams
subject to a combined thermomechanical load was further investigated in [287] using HSDT. The

limitations of HSDT were emphasized since this theory does not account for the physical
nonlinearity of the constituent materials that was present in the experimentally tested specimens.

On the contrary, FEA results accounting for both geometric and physical nonlinear effects were
in a close agreement with the experimental data. The effect of a nonuniform through-the-
thickness temperature on the mode of failure of sandwich beams undergoing compression (in
particular, the compression of the section of the cross section induced in a four-point bending

test) was experimentally, numerically and analytically investigated in [288] demonstrating a

possible shift in the mode of failure from the facing yielding of aluminum facings to wrinkling.

Multifunctional coatings of sandwich panels slowing the heat transfer as well as increasing the

strength and stiffness were considered accounting for the effect of temperature on the constituent
properties and using a thermal loading profile typical for a supersonic flight [289]. Both the

lower temperature of the colder sandwich panel surface as well as improved strength and
stiffness were achieved with a minimum weight penalty.

ZrB2-SiC-graphite corrugated core sandwich panels were manufactured and studied for high-

temperature applications [290]. Such panels retained high compression strength even at 1600oC,
while remaining 60% lighter than the bulk material. This study expands the previous research by
the same group manufacturing and testing ceramic corrugated core panels [291].

Thermo-mechanical response of axisymmetric circular sandwich plates was analyzed using a

nonlinear version of HSDT as well as FEA and accounting for the effect of temperature on the


material properties of the foam core [292]. A temperature-induced foam core degradation was
accounted for, while the assumption of a negligible in-plane stiffness of the core adopted in the
analytical study was confirmed through a comparison with the finite element solution.

The significance of accounting for a physically nonlinear response of the foam of a sandwich

beam subject to a thermo-mechanical loading was demonstrated in [287]. This experimental and
numerical study also demonstrate limitation of HSDT that accounts only for geometric


Thermal conductivity of sandwich panels with balsa, honeycomb and Divinycell® cores was
investigated [293]. Sound transmission loss in sandwich panels operating at an elevated

temperature was considered in [294]. AN
Free vibrations of elastically supported sandwich beams with FGM facings subject to
temperature were considered by LW and FSDT theories [295]. Temperature-induced vibrations

of sandwich metal-ceramic plates and shells with temperature-dependent material properties

were investigated using a layer-wise HSDT by Pandey et al. [296].

Free vibrations of sandwich plates subjected to an elevated temperature were analyzed using the

Carrera’s unified formulation (CUF) and the hierarchical trigonometric Ritz method [297, 298].
CUF is presented in its generalized version allowing to produce hierarchically a wide range of

advanced equivalent single layer, zig-zag and layer-wise plate theories including the capability to
choose the desired expansion order for each unknown in the displacement field. Using CUF

enables the authors to reduce the solution to ESL, Murakami zig-zag and LW formulations. The
authors concluded that the LW approach must be employed for thick sandwich panels and in

case of a high facing-to-thickness ratio. The feasibility of neglecting certain terms in the
displacement field reducing the amount of time necessary for the analysis was also considered.

The detrimental effect of a prolonged exposure to moisture on the properties of E-glass/polyester

facings, PVC foam core sandwich was experimentally demonstrated in [299], [300] reflecting a
reduction in both flexural strength and stiffness. The facing-core interface fracture toughness was


degraded as a result of exposure to sea water. The effect of moisture on adhesive bondline
strength in sandwich structures was experimentally studied in [301]. Ishikawa et al. [302]
suggested that excessive deformations in sandwich panels with Rohacell core subject to tensile
load and moisture are introduced because of the moisture absorption in a high-moisture and high-
temperature environment. The analytical solution for buckling and free vibration problems in a

functionally graded sandwich panel resting on a linear elastic foundation was developed using a
quasi-parabolic shear stress distribution through the thickness and accounting for thermal and/or

moisture presence in [303]. A LW approach was used to analyze the response of sandwich plates
to a combination of thermal, moisture and mechanical loads [304].

Hydrophobic thin barrier films protecting sandwich structure against moisture penetration were

considered in [305]. Using barrier films as the outermost ply in sandwich structures to reduce
moisture penetration was discussed in [306].
4.4. Sandwich structures exposed to fire and their post-fire properties

During fire, the combination of thermally-induced stresses, changes in the material properties

and the convergence of polymeric materials into char can result in failure of the sandwich
structure. The probability of such failure increases with time of exposure to fire, as the charred

zone expands. After fire, the structure is often damaged, including the region with charred
material as well as possible damage accumulated during the event. Accordingly, the residual

properties of such structure are an important aspect dictating its strength and stiffness as well as
the safety of its continuous use.

The modes of failure of sandwich structures subject to fire include the loss of strength, buckling,

wrinkling and the facing-core debonding. In particular, the latter mode was numerically
investigated for sandwich panels consisting of glass/vinyl ester facings and a balsa core and
subject to a combination of compression and fire in [307]. The numerical analysis was conducted
using a thermomechanical Abaqus model that was validated through a comparison of the
predicted time to failure with experiments. The behavior of sandwich structures subject to a
combined tension and fire was analytically analyzed and experimentally validated in [308].


The effect of fire on the performance of polymeric composites is predominantly related to a

damage to matrix. Accordingly, if the fibers are aligned along the tensile load, the fire is not
nearly as dangerous as in the case of different fiber orientations or misalignments in the facings
as was demonstrated for sandwich panels with plain woven facings and balsa core in [309].

An experimental observation made in [310] suggested that porosity acquired in the resin during

decomposition at 180-200oC may serve as debonding crack initiation sites. Changing the core
material and applying intumescent coating to the sandwich panel subject to fire can increase time

to failure by hundreds percent [311]. Wrinkling of facings in sandwich panels subject to fire,
accounting for the property degradations, was also studied [312]. Both reinforcing foam cores

with glass stitches as well as using flame retardants were shown effective in compressed
sandwich panels subject to fire where the time to failure was increased several times compared to
the benchmark panel in some of the tested specimens [311]. A fire retardant sandwich structure
was developed using a phenolic coating and an aramid/phenolic protective layer on the surface of

an aramid/glass facings and a phenolic foam filled Nomex honeycomb core [313].

Although a lion share of experimental and numerical research on the effect of fire on sandwich
structures has been concentrated on the specimens with glass-epoxy fiber facings, data was also

collected for sandwich structures with carbon/epoxy facings [314]. Using of biofibers in the
facings of sandwich structures and protecting them from fire through either insulative silica-

based materials added to the matrix or with fire-retardant coatings have also been investigated
[315], [316].

Residual properties of sandwich structures after fire represent a particular interest in practical

situations. An advanced analytical model was employed in [317] to predict the char zone
propagation throughout a sandwich beam subject to fire, assess the decomposition of facings and
core and predict the residual stiffness and strength. The model was validated by comparison with
experimental data on E-glass/vinyl ester woven facings and balsa core specimens.


In addition to the effect of fire on dry sandwich structures, the effect of water absorption prior to
the fire event on the structural response of the structure represents significant interest,
particularly in marine applications. This effect has been explored in [318] on the example of E-
glass/vinyl ester facings, balsa core sandwich panels demonstrating both a reduced tensile
strength as well as a lower fire resistance, primarily due to the detrimental effect of moisture on

the facing material, including plasticization of the matrix and a degradation of the fiber-matrix

5. Sample Recent Applications

Sandwich structures have found many applications in virtually every branch of industry.

Accordingly, we list here only the most recent representative examples of their applications,
excluding hundreds of papers on the subject. The applications that are considered include
aerospace, civil engineering, marine and naval engineering and biomedical areas.

The effect of the core on sound transmission of sandwich panels in aerospace applications was
considered including the analysis of both honeycomb and foam cores [319]. A redesign of a

rotorcraft sandwich roof minimizing structure-borne sound and optimizing the sound power
transmission loss was reported [320]. In the optimized design, the cross section was split into

two thinner subpanels with an air gap between them. A sandwich radome wall capable of
operating at temperatures up to 800oC was considered in [321]. Sandwich panel shields for

protection of spacecraft from orbital debris were developed and analyzed [322]. Using fiber
Bragg grating embedded ultrasonic transducer enabled to nondestructively assess disbands in an

aircraft vertical stabilizer with aluminum honeycomb core and composite skins [323]. A new
imaging system for the identification of modal frequencies and modal shapes has recently been

applied to identify these parameters in the sandwich panel of the gondola of a stratospheric
ballooning project [324].

The concept of a nonablative lightweight thermal protection system (NALT) currently

considered in Japan for Mars exploration is shown in Fig. 8 [325]. The system consists of a


carbon/carbon composite skin, insulator tiles, and a honeycomb sandwich panel, the function of
these elements being heat resistance, thermal insulation, and structural strength, respectively.

Fig. 8. A concept of a nonablative lightweight thermal protection system (NALT) [325].

Reproduced with permission from Elsevier.


Among the civil engineering applications, light weighted and tough insulated concrete sandwich
panels with fiber reinforced plastic segmental shear connectors have been used for roof and floor

structures [326]. Sandwich panels providing insulation, waterproofing, durability and load-
bearing capacities for building applications and consisting of polystyrene/cement mixed cores

and thin cement sheet facings were investigated in [327]. Biodegradable sandwich structures
with hardwood facings, mushroom foam core and natural glue adhesive suitable for civil
engineering applications were considered [328]. Sandwich structures with thick glass facings and

glass fiber reinforced polymer core may also be attractive in glazing applications [329]. A

pedestrian footbridge using sandwich construction was built and tested in Gdansk [330].

A design of composite sandwich structures for a roof of railway vehicle, addressing such factors
as cost, manufacturing and optimization of design was reported [331]. Low-velocity impact of
sandwich structures in railroad cars was studied in [332]. An optimization of an urban transit
carbody using sandwich construction for such elements as roof, walls and underframe was


considered demonstrating a potential for up to 29% weight reduction [333]. Damage resistance
of sandwich panels employed in transportation structures where they are subject to a low-
velocity impact was considered in [334] using a three-dimensional FEA. An optimum design of
glass/epoxy facings sandwich panels intended for rescue vehicles in the Arctic, and incorporating
a thermal insulating core and external heat shield was developed in [335].

Besides the references relevant to the air and underwater blast resistance of sandwich structures

cited above, the air and water blast response of marine sandwich structures have recently been
compared accounting for the fluid-structure interaction and using FSDT and FEA to model the

structure [336]. It was shown that the water-structure interaction significantly reduced
deformations and the rate of response of the structure. Deformations and failure of sandwich

panels undergoing an underwater blast were investigated, accounting for the damage in the
facings and core as well as delamination [337]. One of the observations in this paper was that the
foam core mitigates the impulse transmitted to the back facing and plays an important role in
preserving the bending stiffness of the panel.

Fatigue in sandwich L-joints used in marine sandwich structures was experimentally studied in

[338]. A degradation in the fatigue response of marine sandwich structures exposed to sea water
was also investigated [339]. The effect of slamming on the transverse shear forces in sandwich

structures used in high-speed marine crafts was experimentally investigated in [340]. Indentation
impact of marine sandwich structures inflicted by rock of various geometries, i.e. conical,

pyramidal and flat-ace cylindrical shapes, was experimentally studied [341]. Wave impact
testing of marine sandwich structures was discussed in [284]. Other recent studies specifically

concerned with various aspects of marine applications include [342], [343] and [344].

Among the most recent applications of sandwich designs in electronics, a sandwich structure
with a porous acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic core between two solid ABS
facings was studied for radio frequency antenna applications [345]. Kagome core sandwich
composites were suggested for the absorption of microwaves [346]. A wearable energy harvester
representing a sandwich structure was suggested to utilize energy of knees motion [347].
Flexible piezoelectric touch sensors representing a sandwich structure with electrode and


functional PZT/Pt electrode layers and a flexible substrate were described in [348]. Sandwich
structures are also found in flexible electronics (e.g., [349], [350]) and in dielectric radar domes
[351]. Manufacturing issues of a conformal sandwich antenna were discussed in [352]. Relevant
application examples also include already cited papers [150, 151].

Energy absorption features of sandwich structures and their elements that can be important in
almost all industrial areas have been intensely investigated. For example, Wang et al. considered

tandem aluminum alloy honeycomb arrays that can be incorporated in the sandwich energy
absorbent devices [353]. A further study of axially compressed tandem hexagonal honeycomb

structures demonstrated their advantages as compared to a single honeycomb block, particularly
providing higher energy absorption, while maintaining the same load-carrying capacity.

Experimental and numerical work elucidated the effect of impactor velocity and effective mass
density on the performance of aluminum honeycomb [354].
An original concept of an energy absorber representing a metallic square tube structure filled

with a honeycomb core was demonstrated and its response was thoroughly investigated using
experimental and numerical approach [355]. Another recent concept that can be effectively

applied to both cores of sandwich structures as well as energy absorbers is using honeycomb
with cells filled with circular tubes [356]. Experimentally investigated tube fillers in honeycomb

included circular carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubes and circular aluminum tubes in different
filling patterns. It was demonstrated that mechanical and energy absorption properties of a

honeycomb can be improved using tubular fillings. A theoretical approach to the evaluation of
the energy absorption capacity of an axially compressed honeycomb core were developed using

the minimum energy principle and subsequently validated in experiments [357]. The response of
honeycomb undergoing an oblique loading was considered in [358, 359]. It was shown that the

mode of failure is dependent on the angle of impact. At the angle smaller than 20o, the failure is
manifested in an axial progressive plastic collapse, in the range of the impact angles between 25o
and 40o, the axial progressive collapse is combined with rotation, at larger angles, the cells of
honeycomb topple down, followed with a compressive failure mode. It would be interesting to
expand this study incorporating the effect of facings that may prevent the realization of some of
the modes, particularly at an oblique impact.


Besides engineering applications, sandwich structures, their theory and methods of analysis have
a great potential in biomedical applications as well as in the characterization of bones and
tissues. For example, sandwich bone fracture fixation plates with glass/epoxy facings and
flax/epoxy core were experimentally investigated in uniaxial tension/compression, three-point

bending and Rockwell hardness tests [360] and found superior to conventional metallic
counterparts. The skull is effectively a sandwich structure including layers of a dense cortical

bone and a porous cancellous bone core; its deformations leading to traumatic brain injury as a
result of vehicle crushes were studied accounting for the effects of age and gender [361]. The

calvarium (skullhead) layers thickness were investigated finding that the outer cortical facing is
significantly thicker than the inner counterpart [362]. Using honeycomb in the soles of protective

boots behaving as a sandwich structure was experimentally investigated in [363] where filling
the core cells with glass microspheres was shown effective for the maximum energy absorption.
6. Conclusions

The present review outlines the major trends in research and development of sandwich structures

concentrating on the most recent work. The major conclusions the authors draw from the
reviewed studies are:

1. Modeling of sandwich structures requires progressively sophisticated methods accounting


for the three-dimensional effects, physical and geometric nonlinearities and constitutive
relations for the newly developed materials. Pressing needs include addressing new or

previously underexplored phenomena, such as environmental effects on the engineering

constants, interaction of failure modes, and multiscale response of the material, from

nanoscale to macroscale. Two principal directions of macromechanical modeling are a

layerwise and equivalent single layer approaches.

2. New sandwich designs and concepts are actively investigated and introduced into
practice. Many such concepts are developed for the core aiming at improving its
functionality both transferring and distributing applied loads among the facings as well as


enhancing toughness of the structure. In addition to widely used honeycomb, cellular and
balsa cores, various truss-core designs are extensively investigated. Among recent
developments is using functionally graded core enabling a better tailoring of the response
of the structure and an enhanced integrity. Functionally graded, z-pinned or stitched
sandwich structures can provide an enhanced resistance against face/core debonding as

well as a higher toughness.

3. Multifunctionality of sandwich structures is a natural design objective. Such features as
heat transfer management, radar wave absorption, noise and fire insulation are considered

in diverse industrial settings.

4. New material concepts are studied for sandwich structure applications. Examples of
materials incorporated into new sandwich designs include, but not limited to, nanotubes,
shape memory alloy and piezoelectrics, while the aims may vary from enhanced strength,
stiffness and toughness to sensing internal damage. One of the consequences of

introducing such materials in the facings and core is the adaptation of available or
development of new micromechanical theories capable of an accurate capturing of the

structural behavior.

5. Environmental effects, including fire, have been intensely studied due to their
significance in numerous applications. While sandwich structures can be adopted to

incorporate thermal protection layers, internal damage caused by such phenomena is not
always easily detected. Residual properties of damaged sandwich structures are also of

interest both after environmental exposure as well as after excessive mechanical loading.

In conclusion, in spite of mature and comprehensive theoretical and design methods pertinent to
sandwich structures, the ever-increasing range of applications, loadings and available materials
will continue to motivate theoretical and experimental studies in the foreseeable future. It is also
noted that while we only briefly referred to biomedical applications of sandwich structures, both
this area as well as a characterization of biological tissues adopting sandwich structural theories
represents yet another promising field for research.


The second author (George A. Kardomateas) would like to acknowledge financial support of the
Office of Naval Research, Grant N00014-16-1-2831, as well as the interest and
encouragement of the Grant Monitor, Dr. Y.D.S. Rajapakse. Also, the communications with Dr.

Adrian Mouritz (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and Dr. Stefanie Feih (Singapore
Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech)) are warmly appreciated.


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