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Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

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Thin-Walled Structures
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/tws

Full length article

Behaviour of ultra-high strength steel hollow tubes subjected to low velocity T

lateral impact: Experiment and finite element analysis
Wei Lia, , Ying-Zhuo Gua, Lin-Hai Hana, Xiao-Ling Zhaob, Rui Wangc, Mohammad Nassirniab,

Amin Heidarpourb
Department of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China
Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
College of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan 030024, PR China


Keywords: This paper presents experimental and numerical study on the behaviour of ultra-high strength steel (UHSS)
Ultra-high strength steel (UHSS) hollow tubes under low velocity lateral impact loading. A total of six specimens were tested under lateral impact
Lateral impact loading. The finite element (FE) model was established with the consideration of the strain rate effect and
Finite element analysis (FEA) validated against test results. The parametric study showed that UHSS hollow tubes had the similar failure
Failure mode
pattern when compared to that of normal strength steel members. The mid-span deflection and the residual
Impact energy
Axial load level
deformation decreased significantly when the UHSS tube was applied.

1. Introduction mechanical behaviour of UHSS tubes under static loading. Zhao [16],
Jiao and Zhao [17–19], and Rhodes et al. [20] performed a series of
High strength steels provide a great potential of weight reduction static tests on hollow tubes using UHSS, which was heat-treated and
and cost-effective designs, and have attracted much attention in en- had a yield stress around 1350 MPa, to investigate their compressive,
gineering society. Today's steel manufacturing technology makes it tensile and bending behaviors.
possible to produce ultra-high strength steels (UHSS). These steels have The UHSS tubes were welded to other mild steel components to
been used mainly in the automotive industry and could have strong form a hybrid section in order to fully utilize the strength capacity and
potential in future engineering structures. The major differences be- improve the ductility. Later, Javidan et al. [21] extended this study to
tween normal strength steel and high/ultra-high strength steel are the long hybrid tubular columns and the effect of weld. A series of research
stress-strain relations that have significant influences on the mechanical has been conducted on a new type of hollow column that consisted of
performance under static and dynamic loadings. According to most mild steel corrugated plates with UHSS tubes welded at corners. The
codes of practice for design and construction [1–4], usually the nominal results demonstrated the improved high capacity of hybrid columns
yield stress of high-strength steel shall not be less than 690 MPa [5]. under compression and impact compared to conventional tubular sec-
However, steel manufacturing with the use of continuous annealing or tions [7,22,23].
hot stamping makes it possible to produce UHSS with up to These tubular members often encounter low velocity impact loads
1300–1500 MPa tensile strength [6,7]. Many researchers have been within their service periods, such as collisions between bridge piers and
engaged to investigate the microstructure, mechanical and welding automobiles, offshore platforms and ships, which can cause serious
behaviors of high-strength steel and UHSS, such as Roth and Mohr [8], damage to structures. Studies on the impact performance of hollow
Heidarpour et al. [9], Amraeia et al. [10], Winkler et al. [11], Sugimoto steel tubes consisting of normal strength steel were carried out by
[12], Neimitz et al. [13], Bardelcik et al. [14] and Guo et al. [15]. While various researchers. Jones et al. [24], Jones and Shen [25] and Zei-
the yield stress and ultimate strength of UHSS are much higher than noddini et al. [26–28] conducted drop hammer experiments on steel
those of the normal strength steels, its ductility is much lower, which tubes in the lateral direction with corresponding theoretical or nu-
makes it a more ‘brittle’ material. merical investigations. However, the yield strength of steel was low and
Circular hollow steel tubes are widely used in engineering steel there were lack of detailed parametric studies in numerical analysis.
structures. To date, a few investigations have been carried out on the Yang et al. [29] performed pipe-on-pipe impact tests to study the

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: iliwei@tsinghua.edu.cn (W. Li).

Received 29 January 2018; Received in revised form 8 October 2018; Accepted 15 October 2018
0263-8231/ © 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Nomenclatures t0 duration of first impact

V0 initial impact velocity
D outer diameter of steel tube Δ mid-span deflection
E impact energy δ local deformation
Es elastic modulus of steel Δm maximum mid-span deflection
F impact force Δr residual mid-span deflection
Fm maximum impact force δr local residual deformation
H height of hammer ε longitudinal strain
I impact momentum εu ultimate strain of steel
Le effective length of specimen εy yield strain of steel
m mass of hammer equivalent plastic strain rate
M bending moment 0 constant parameter of the Cowper-Symonds model
n axial load level λ slenderness ratio
N axial load σd dynamic yield stress of steel
N0 initial axial load σu ultimate strength of steel
p constant parameter of the Cowper-Symonds model σy yield stress of steel
t wall thickness of steel tube

dynamic response of steel pipes and the influences of the impact loca- There is lack of data on the dynamic failure of pre-loaded UHSS tubular
tions were investigated. Khedmati and Nazari [30] used finite element members subjected to low velocity lateral impacts, and the corre-
(FE) models to conduct parametric analysis on lateral collided tubular sponding numerical investigation has not been conducted yet, which
members and it was found that preloading substantially changed the might hinder the application of UHSS tubes.
ultimate lateral load. However, the impact loading was simulated by This paper presents the experimental and numerical investigations
the quasi-static lateral force, and the dynamic behaviour and the strain on the behaviour of UHSS hollow tubes under low velocity lateral im-
rate effect of material were neglected. Travanca and Hao [31] used FE pact loading. The impact tests on UHSS tubular specimens are carried
models to study the impact behaviour of mild steel tube with the con- out by the falling-weight impact test machine. The experimental results
sideration of the strain rate effect, and the design curves of impact force such as failure modes, impact force and deformation of specimens are
verses crushing distance were suggested. Zhang et al. [32] performed recorded and analysed. The corresponding FE model is also established,
experimental studies on the plastic behaviour of circular steel tubes and the numerical results are verified by those obtained from experi-
subjected to transverse low-velocity mass impact and proposed an ments. Subsequent analysis on impact mechanism and influence of
empirical formula for the plastic dent zone length and impact force various parameters are also conducted through the verified FE model.
relationship with local denting. The investigation on the residual The objectives of the research are as threefold: 1) to provide a series of
strength of collided steel column were also carried out [33,34]. In terms test data of UHSS tubes under lateral impact loading with axial load
of the parametric study, there is literature with respect to material applied; 2) to provide the numerical model which can reasonably pre-
strength (Kohar et al.[35]), diameter to thickness ratio (Zarei et al. dict the behaviour of UHSS tube under lateral impact; and 3) to discuss
[36], Baroutaji et al. [37]), mass ratio (Langseth et al. [38]), and impact the influences of various parameters, i.e., the diameter to thickness
momentum (Karagiozova et al. [39]). However, the materials dealt with ratio, slenderness ratio, yield stress of steel, impact energy, impact
in these references were aluminium mainly, and most of the tubes were momentum and axial load level on the impact behaviour of UHSS tubes.
under axial impact loading.
In addition, there were a few investigations on the behaviour of 2. Experimental investigation
high-strength steel and UHSS tubular members subjected to axial dy-
namic loading. Kohar et al. [40] performed simulations on a top-hat 2.1. Specimens
crush tube made of an industrial multiphase transformation induced
plasticity (TRIP) 800 steel, whose minimum ultimate tensile strength A total of six hollow straight welded UHSS tubes were prepared and
was over 800 MPa, to evaluate its crashworthiness. The results showed tested, which could be categorised into two groups according to their
the influence of martensite generation on the mean crush force response nominal outer diameters (D). The first category comprised of three
is more sensitive to strain-rate changes for TRIP 800 for axial crush samples (T-1 to T-3) with the same outer diameter (D) of 31.8 mm, wall
applications. Omer et al. [41] conducted experimental and numerical thickness (t) of 1.75 mm and total length (L) of 730 mm. The effective
investigation on hot stamped axial crush members with tailored prop- length (Le) of these specimens, defined as the clear distance between
erties, which comprised bainitic zone and martensitic zone. The ulti- two fixtures on both ends of each specimen, was 480 mm. The other
mate tensile strength of the martensitic part was over 1500 MPa. It was three specimens (T-4 to T-6) had D= 38.1 mm, t = 1.9 mm,
found that tailoring the properties of the current crush rails could lead L= 894 mm and Le= 640 mm. According to previous research, the in-
to favourable axial crush behaviour, in terms of fracture suppression, itial impact velocity (V0), the mass of hammer (m) and the axial load
deformation mode and energy absorption. level (n) could affect the impact behaviour. These parameters are se-
The thorough literature study shows that there is minor investiga- lected as the main parameters investigated in the test. The detailed
tion about the behaviour of UHSS hollow tubes under lateral impact information is presented in Table 1, where N0 is the initial axial load
loading. Generally, the impact loading can be categorized into either applied to specimens, H is the height of hammer, E is the impact energy
low or high velocity. For the low velocity impact, the dynamic struc- and I is the impact momentum. The axial load level (n) in this paper is
tural response of the target is of utmost importance as the contact defined as:
duration is long enough for the entire structure to respond to the im-
n = N0 / Ncr (1)
pact, and in consequence more energy is absorbed elastically [42].
Cantwell and Morton [43] suggested that the low velocity as up to where Ncr is the axial stability bearing capacity of hollow steel tubes
10 m/s, by considering the test techniques which are generally em- and can be defined as:
ployed in simulating the impact event (falling weight impact testing). Ncr = · Nu (2)

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Table 1
Detailed information of UHSS specimens.
No. Specimen D/mm Le/mm t/mm n N0/kN H/m V0/(m/s) m/kg E/J I/(kg m/s)

1 T-1 31.8 480 1.75 0.3 32.9 1.00 4.427 72.0 706 318.8
2 T-2 31.8 480 1.75 0.3 32.9 1.38 5.202 72.0 974 374.6
3 T-3 31.8 480 1.75 0.3 32.9 1.00 4.427 99.4 974 440.2
4 T-4 38.1 640 1.90 0 0 1.00 4.427 72.0 706 318.8
5 T-5 38.1 640 1.90 0.3 38.1 1.00 4.427 72.0 706 318.8
6 T-6 38.1 640 1.90 0.6 76.1 1.00 4.427 72.0 706 318.8

Table 3
Table 2
Mechanical properties of UHSS.
Chemical composition of UHSS (units: %).
Specimen D/mm σy/MPa σu/MPa εu/με Es/GPa
C Si Mn P S B Cr Ni Mo Ti
T-1 to T-3 31.8 1283 1449 38,270 212
0.200 0.800 1.700 0.025 0.015 0.005 1.500 1.000 0.500 0.005
T-4 to T-6 38.1 1331 1444 39,950 206

where φ is the stability coefficient which can be tentatively calculated

by GB 50017-2003 [4] and Nu is the ultimate axial bearing capacity.
mid-span of specimens with indenter. The rigid indenter had a round
2.2. Material properties of UHSS arc surface with a diameter of 30 mm, a central angle of 160° and a
width of 80 mm, as illustrated in Fig. 3(c). The fixed-sliding boundary
The UHSS tubes in the test were manufactured using a continuous condition was applied on these tubes, in which specimen was supported
quench and temper processes, and the chemical compositions of UHSS by an axially sliding support at one end and a fixed one at the other end.
used are summarized in Table 2 [9]. The tensile coupon test for these Side clamps were used to restrain 100 mm of each tube end to prevent
tubular specimens has been carried out in the previous study. These rotations. The axial load level was one of the loading parameters. Be-
coupons were created from original tubes, and their dimensions are fore dropping the hammer, the axial load (N0) for specimens was ap-
given in Fig. 1 [35]. Tensile testing of the coupons satisfied the re- plied by a hydraulic jack with a disc spring.
quirements of ASTM E8 [44]. The engineering uniaxial tensile stress- During the experiments, the time-history of impact force, axial force
strain relationship of UHSS tubes is presented in Fig. 2. Table 3 lists the and longitudinal strain of steel tubes were recorded by a data acquisi-
yield stress relating to engineering strain values of 0.2% (σy), ultimate tion system whose sample rate was 100,000 Hz. The impact force sensor
strength (σu), ultimate strain (εu) and elastic modulus (Es) of UHSS was fixed between the indenter and drop weights, while the axial force
tubes for the tested specimens. It can be seen that the yield stress of the sensor was placed between the disc spring and the end plate of spe-
UHSS tubes used in the experiment is approximately 1300 MPa and the cimen, as shown in Fig. 3(b). The deformation of specimens during the
ultimate strain is approximately 39,000 με. first collision was recorded by a high-speed camera at a rate of 2000 Hz.
Before the test, a track point was marked at the mid-span of each
specimen, which could be tracked automatically by the camera to get
2.3. Impact test setup and measurement
the time-history of mid-span deflection. The position of the track point
on each tube is presented in Fig. 3(c). The longitudinal strain of T-4, T-5
The impact experiments were performed using the DHR9401
and T-6 were measured during the test. The maximum measurable
hammer impact test machine. Fig. 3 depicts the configuration of the test
value of strain gauges used in the test was 10,000 με, which was less
setup in detail. The specimen was placed horizontally and the lateral
than the longitudinal strain developed in the hinge regions under im-
impact load was applied through releasing the hammer from a certain
pact loading. Therefore, two strain gauges S1 and S2 were located at the
height (H), which could drop vertically along the slipway and hit the
1/8 and 1/4 of effective span's length away from mid-span respectively,
as presented in Fig. 3(c). Furthermore, the residual deformation of each
specimen was also measured after the test.

2.4. Test results and analysis

2.4.1. Failure modes

Fig. 1. Dimensions of tensile coupon of UHSS (units: mm). Fig. 4 shows photos of the specimen T-1 during the first impact
incident. At the beginning, the hammer dropped down and hit the
UHSS tube, as shown in Fig. 4(a). Both the overall and local deforma-
tion of tube developed and reached the maximum value at t = 14 ms, as
shown in Fig. 4(b). Then, the specimen began to rebound. Around
30 ms after the first touch, the hammer separated from the specimen, as
shown in Fig. 4(c). The hammer would strike the specimen again until it
eventually stopped after several repeated bounces. The whole process
lasted for a few hundred milliseconds.
Fig. 5(a) shows the photos of T-2 specimen after the impact test to
reveal the typical failure modes of UHSS hollow tubes under transverse
impact load. The corresponding schematic view is also presented in
Fig. 5(b). In fact, all specimens, including those with or without axial
load, had similar failure patterns. From the observation, obvious global
Fig. 2. Axial tensile stress-strain curve of UHSS. flexural deformation could be recognized with a large local indentation

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 3. Configuration of test setup.

at mid-span of the specimen, where the tube was struck directly by the the cross section. It may be due to the fact that the impact incident was
hammer. Both ends of the specimen also bent because the clamps re- a dynamic process which needed to consider the speed of object, stress
strained the rotation degree of freedom. Moreover, there were clear wave propagation, inertial force and other dynamic factors. The top
folds at the bottom of both ends, which demonstrated that local buck- point of the cross section and adjacent area would gain higher down-
ling occurred at these positions. The results illustrated that UHSS ward velocity and larger inertia force than those of the bottom area at
hollow tubes had similar failure modes to the normal strength steel the moment of impact, which led to the inwardly curved deformation
members when subjected to transverse impact [24,26]. pattern of the mid-span cross section.
The mid-span of T-2 was cut off along the lateral direction to ex-
amine the deformation pattern and shape of the cross section after 2.4.2. Impact force versus mid-span deflection relations
impact, as shown in Fig. 5. It could be found that the upper half of the The vertical movement of the track point during the impact process
mid-span cross section was bent inwards, which meant that the top is considered as the mid-span deflection or the global deformation (Δ)
point struck by hammer had a larger deformation than other points on of the tube, while the dent depth at the collided position of specimen is

Fig. 4. Photos of T-1 during the first impact.

Fig. 5. Failure pattern of specimen.

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 6. Impact force versus mid-span deflection relations.

Table 4
Measured and predicted results of UHSS specimens.
Specimen Fm/kN Δm/mm Δr/mm δr/mm

Measured Predicted Measured/ Measured Predicted Measured/ Measured Predicted Measured/ Measured Predicted Measured/
Predicted Predicted Predicted Predicted

T-1 35.4 31.7 1.12 26.1 24.9 1.05 15.7 16.9 0.93 10.4 10.9 0.95
T-2 36.9 42.8 0.86 35.5 31.8 1.12 25.4 23.7 1.07 12.7 12.2 1.04
T-3 39.0 43.2 0.90 34.2 32.0 1.07 24.7 23.9 1.03 12.5 12.2 1.02
T-4 43.1 38.0 1.13 21.5 20.7 1.04 7.2 8.1 0.89 8.8 9.5 0.92
T-5 40.3 33.2 1.21 23.6 23.0 1.03 10.4 12.5 0.83 9.2 11.1 0.83
T-6 39.4 36.5 1.08 24.7 25.3 0.98 12.5 15.2 0.82 9.8 11.4 0.86

assumed as the local deformation (δ), as presented in Fig. 5(b). The impact force of T-4 was 43.1 kN, which was approximately 6.9% more
global residual deformation (Δr) and the local residual deformation (δr) than that of T-5% and 9.4% more than that of T-6. It might due to the
of each tube were measured after impact. fact that higher pre-compression would cause earlier yielding, which
Fig. 6 shows the impact force (F) versus mid-span deflection (Δ) would lead to an earlier local hinging and decrease of transverse stiff-
relations of specimens measured during the first impact. It was evident ness of steel tube.
that all curves had a similar variation tendency. At the beginning of
collisions, the impact force of the UHSS hollow tube increased rapidly. 2.4.3. Axial load versus time relations
With the absorption of the impact energy, the mid-span deflection Fig. 7 presents the axial load (N) versus time (t) relations for all
gradually approached the maximum value (Δm) until the hammer specimens measured during the first strike except for specimen T-4
stopped moving downward. When the tube started to rebound as a without axial load. The dashed lines represent the initial axial load
result of the elastic recovery, the impact force decreased quickly and applied. When the impact happened, the axial load transferred by the
was eventually reduced to zero with the separation of hammer and disc spring to specimen decreased for a short period of time. It was due
specimen. After that, the mid-span deflection value started to vibrate to the fact that the instantaneous collision caused a rapid axial con-
and finally tended to a stable value, which was the global residual traction of the sliding end of specimen, which was faster than the ex-
deformation (Δr). tension of the spring. Then, the axial load value began to recover when
The measured values of the maximum experienced impact force the spring touched the specimen again and maintained a moderate vi-
(Fm), maximum global deformation (Δm), global residual deformation bration. At last, the axial load gradually became relatively stable. The
(Δr) and local residual deformation (δr) during the first impact process final reductions of axial load of specimens T-1, T-2, T-3, T-5 and T-6
of each UHSS tube are listed in Table 4. The comparison of T-1, T-2 and were 8.5%, 13.1%, 14.1%, 17.4% and 31.9%, respectively, which were
T-3 implied that the maximum impact force, the overall and local de- caused by the shortening of specimen.
formation of the tube would increase by applying higher impact energy.
When compared with T-1, the impact energy of T-2 increased by 38%, 2.4.4. Longitudinal strain versus mid-span deflection relations
and the global and local residual deflections increased by 62% and Fig. 8 shows the experimental longitudinal strain (ε) versus mid-
22%, respectively. Through the comparison of T-4, T-5 and T-6, it was span deflection (Δ) relations of specimens T-4, T-5 and T-6. The S1 and
obvious that higher axial load level caused less maximum impact force S2 strain gauges were mounted on the bottom surface of each specimen
and larger lateral deformation of specimen. The measured maximum and located at the 1/8 and 1/4 of effective span's length away from

Fig. 7. Axial load versus time relations.

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 8. Longitudinal strain versus mid-span deflection relations.

mid-span respectively, as shown in Fig. 3(c). The positive value re- under different strain rates can be calculated by the Cowper-Symonds
presented the tensile strain while the negative value meant the com- model [47], which has been successfully applied in previous FE simu-
pressive strain. It was apparent that the ε-Δ relations of S1 had similar lations for tubular members [48,49]. In this paper, the Cowper-Sy-
features to that of impact force. It could be found that the strain of S1 monds model was used to simulate the strain rate effect of UHSS ten-
and S2 kept positive and negative values respectively when the mid- tatively as follows:
span deflection reached its maximum value. This implied that at this
time, the zero moment point of the UHSS tube under transverse impact d = y [1 + ( / 0)1/ p] (3)
was between the 1/8 and 1/4 of effective span's length away from mid-
span. Moreover, the strain of S1 of each tube finally tended to be ap- where σd is the dynamic yield stress of steel under strain rate , σy is the
proximately zero. It could be explained that the nominal yield strain of static yield stress, is the equivalent plastic strain rate, 0 and p are the
UHSS (εy) corresponding to its yield stress (σy) was over 7000 με, which constant parameters [47]. The empirical values of 0 and p proposed by
was larger than the experienced maximum longitudinal strain of S1 and Abramowicz and Jones [50] were used in this FE model tentatively,
S2. Therefore, the deformation of the areas around S1 and S2 were which were taken as 6844 s−1 and 3.91, respectively.
generally under elastic range during the collision. However, the strain The 4-node doubly curved shell elements with reduced integration
of S2 eventually remained negative, which was almost its maximum (S4R), 8-node linear brick elements with reduced integration (C3D8R),
negative value. It was probably owing to the fact that the boundary and 4-node 3-D bilinear rigid quadrilateral shell elements (R3D4) were
condition constrained the rebound of elastic deformation near both used to simulate the UHSS tube, end plates and clamps, and the
ends of specimens. hammer, respectively. The coupling effect of axial force and impact
load of the specimen was considered in the model and the axial load
3. Finite element analysis was applied by a spring element. The stiffness of spring element was set
as 1.1 kN/mm by test result. The impact process was achieved by giving
3.1. Model description mass and initial velocity to the hammer. The total length of the simu-
lation time was set as 40 ms, which could cover the duration of the first
The FE model of UHSS hollow circular tube under lateral impact impact.
loading was established in ABAQUS/Explicit module. The schematic The specimen and the end plate were connected by the "Tie" con-
view of FE model is shown in Fig. 9(a). nection. Meanwhile, a “Hard” contact interaction was applied to si-
For the UHSS material, a simplified bilinear stress-strain model mulate the interaction in the normal direction of all contact interfaces.
consisted of elastic and hardening stages was used in the FE model, as The friction coefficient of all components was taken as 0.15. The UHSS
shown in Fig. 9(b). It was assumed to have an isotropic plasticity be- tubes were structurally meshed fine enough so that the hourglass en-
haviour tentatively. The yield strain of steel (εy) was calculated by di- ergy could be less than 2% of total impact energy [49]. The cross sec-
viding the yield stress (σy) by the elastic modulus (Es). The hardening tion of the tube was divided into 48 parts along the circumference in
modulus was taken as 0.01Es, where Es was the steel modulus of elas- average. For the tested specimens, the size of the element was ap-
ticity [46]. When subjected to impact loading, the strength of steel proximately 2.5 mm. The edge length in the axial direction of a mesh
increases with the development of strain rate. The yield stress of steel was approximately equal to the one in the circumferential direction,

Fig. 9. FEA model of UHSS hollow tube under lateral impact.

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 10. Comparison of measured and predicted residual deformation.

Fig. 11. Comparison of measured and predicted impact force versus time relations.

and 9 integration points were used along the thickness direction. specimen was much smaller than the first impact, as indicated in
Wang et al. [45]. Therefore, the results from only the first strike were
3.2. Verification used to verify the FE model. Table 4 presents the comparison of the
test and simulation results of the maximum impact force (Fm), max-
The FE model of UHSS hollow tubes subjected to lateral impact load imum global deflection (Δm), global residual deflection (Δr) and local
was verified by using the test results. The experimental and numerical residual deflection (δr) of each specimen. In general, the results in-
results of the failure patterns of T-1 and T-2 are shown in Fig. 10, which dicated that the proposed FE model could provide reasonable pre-
gives the global residual deformation of specimens and the deformation dictions on the impact behaviour of UHSS tube. Besides, the material
pattern of mid-span cross sections. No fracture of UHSS tube was ob- anisotropy could be considered in the future to further improve the
served in the experiments. The maximum longitudinal local strains accuracy of the results.
calculated by the FE model was less than 40,000 με, which was also less
than the strain corresponding to the material fracture. It can be seen 3.3. Full-range analysis
that the FE model can capture the physical failure patterns well.
The simulation results of the time-history of impact force, mid-span In order to conduct the full-range analysis and parametric study on
deflection and longitudinal strain curves were compared with the cor- UHSS hollow tube under transverse impact load, a new typical FE
responding test results in Fig. 11, Fig. 12 and Fig. 13, respectively. It model was established based on the method mentioned above. The
can be seen from the comparisons that the predicted curves were close supports and boundary conditions in the typical model were simplified
to the measured ones. For the comparison of axial load, it could be seen compared to the test. An ideal fixed-sliding boundary condition was
from Fig. 14 that the overall trends of the predicted and measured applied as shown in Fig. 15. Moreover, the main dimension parameters
curves were similar. of the typical specimen were chosen within the common range used in
The numerical global residual deflection (Δr) and local residual practical engineering, which are listed in Table 5. In the typical model,
deflection (δr) under all strikes were extracted from the FE model. the axial load level of specimen was considered as 0.3. The outer dia-
However, the effect of all post-impacts on final deformation of meter of the tube (D) was 325 mm, the effective length (Le) was 3.6 m

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 12. Comparison of measured and predicted mid-span deflection versus time relations.

Fig. 13. Comparison of measured and predicted longitudinal strain versus time relations.

less than the ultimate strain of UHSS. It demonstrated that there was no
fracture happened to the typical specimen during the impact.
Through numerical calculation, the time-history of impact force and
mid-span deflection curves of the typical model are presented in Fig. 17.
In the curves, several critical points were marked to divide the first
impact process into four stages. In addition, the corresponding failure
modes with the von-Mises stress distributions at these critical points of
the specimen are also showed in Fig. 17.
At point A, which was at the initiation of the impact process, the
Fig. 14. Comparison of measured and predicted axial load versus time rela-
impact force increased much more rapidly than the mid-span deflection
tions. and the contact point of the tube reached the yield stress of UHSS im-
mediately. Then, the impact force and mid-span deflection gradually
developed with the specimen and hammer dropping together. After
point B, the impact force increased moderately. The material yielded in
and the wall thickness (t) was 8 mm. For the material property of UHSS, a large area near the contact point. At point C, both specimen and
the yield stress (σy) and elastic modulus (Es) was taken as 1300 MPa and hammer stopped moving downward and reached the lowest position,
206 GPa, respectively. The diameter of the round arc surface of indenter i.e., the mid-span deflection reached the maximum value. The von-
was changed to 60 mm and the corresponding width was changed to Mises stress of most parts of tube reached the maximum value at the
300 mm. The mass and height of the hammer was taken as 1500 kg and moment, in which the stress at the bottom of mid-span and near the end
4 m, respectively. plates was close to the yield stress. During the whole impact process,
Obviously, longitudinal tensile strain generally occurred in the the stress of specimen near the mid-span and the support was greater
bottom area of mid-span and top area of both ends when the specimen than that of other parts. After point C, both impact force and mid-span
was subjected to lateral impact with fully clamped boundary condi- deflection started to decline. At point D, the impact force reduced to
tions. Fig. 16 presents the longitudinal strain of these regions versus zero with the separation of specimen and hammer. Meanwhile, the mid-
time relations of the typical specimen. It could be found that the span deflection began to fluctuate freely around the equilibrium posi-
maximum tensile strain of these curves was 5180 με, which was much tion and the amplitude of mid-span deflection curve after point D was

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 15. FEA model with simplified boundary condition.

Table 5
Information of prototype FE model.
D/mm Le/mm t/mm n σy/MPa Es/GPa H/m V0/(m/s) m/kg E/kJ I/(kg m/s)

325 3600 8 0.3 1300 206 4 8.854 1500 58.8 13282

during the impact and was almost constant after the maximum de-
flection was reached. After the separation of specimen and hammer, the
elastic strain energy decreased slowly and became stable, as the spe-
cimen maintained vibration after collision.

3.4. Parametric study

Table 6 gives the scheme of numerical parametric study. The pro-

totype model had the same parameters as those of the model estab-
lished in previous session, while the axial load level (n) was taken as
zero. The parameters investigated included the diameters to thickness
Fig. 16. Typical longitudinal strain versus time relations.
ratio, the slenderness ratio, the yield stress, the impact energy, the
impact momentum and the axial load level.
about 5.1% of the maximum value. Due to the recovery of elastic de-
formation, the stress of the UHSS tube was significantly reduced. In 3.4.1. Diameter to thickness ratio (D/t)
general, the trends of impact force and deformation time-histories of The wall thickness of the tube was changed to 5 mm, 6 mm, 7 mm,
UHSS hollow tubes was similar to those of normal strength steel 9 mm and 10 mm to achieve different diameter to thickness ratio (D/t).
members [26,27]. Fig. 19 presents the change of the maximum impact force (Fm), the
During the impact process, the initial kinetic energy of the drop maximum global deflection (Δm), the global residual deflection (Δr) and
hammer was partly converted to the kinetic energy and internal energy the local residual deflection (δr) of each specimen with the variation of
of the specimen. The internal energy of the specimen included the D/t. It was obvious that Fm decreased and Δm, Δr and δr increased with
elastic strain energy, plastic strain energy, dissipation energy and ar- the increase of D/t when the specimens had the same diameter. It may
tificial strain energy in numerical calculation. In the FE model of typical contribute to the fact that the increase of D/t while keeping the dia-
UHSS tube, the dissipation energy was close to zero during the impact meter as the same would reduce both the overall and cross section
and the maximum value of artificial strain energy was only 2.3% of that lateral stiffness of the UHSS tube.
of internal energy, which indicated the simulation results were reliable.
Fig. 18 presents the time-history of the internal energy and strain en- 3.4.2. Slenderness ratio (λ)
ergy curves of the typical specimen. The internal energy and elastic Fig. 20 shows the simulated results of specimens whose effective
strain energy curves had similar trends before the separation of spe- lengths were 2.1 m, 2.6 m, 3.1 m, 3.6 m, 4.1 m and 4.6 m under the
cimen and hammer. The plastic strain energy curve kept growing same impact loading scenario. It could be seen that Δm and Δr increased

Fig. 17. Typical load and deformation time-histories and stress distribution.

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

taken as 235 MPa, 345 MPa, 460 MPa, 550 MPa, 690 MPa, 780 MPa,
850 MPa, 960 MPa, 1100 MPa, 1200 MPa and 1300 MPa. In the FE
model, the material property of mild steel whose yield stress was less
than 460 MPa was simulated by using a five-stage stress-strain model
[45]. The values of Cowper-Symonds parameters were kept the same
tentatively. It could be found from Fig. 21 that with the increase of σy,
Fm also increased, while Δm, Δr and δr decreased when under the same
impact energy. It indicated that the specimen performance under im-
pact loading was improved with the increase of yield stress. In addition,
when σy was greater than 690 MPa, the effect of σy on impact force and
deformations became moderate. For instance, when σy changed from
Fig. 18. Typical energy dissipation. 345 MPa to 460 MPa, Δr was reduced by 21.9 mm, and when σy changed
from 1100 MPa to 1200 MPa, Δr was only reduced by 1.7 mm. It implied
with the increase of slenderness ratio (λ, defined as 2Le/D), while Fm that when the yield stress of steel was less than 690 MPa, the impact
decreased with the increase of λ. This was similar to the influence of D/ force and deformations of steel tube under lateral impact were more
t. Compared with the prototype specimen, when λ increased by 13.9%, sensitive to the change of σy, rather than UHSS tubes. It might be due to
Fm decreased by 7.9%, and Δm and Δr increased by 24.9% and 32.5%, the fact that the yielded region was more concentrated in UHSS tubes,
respectively. However, the changing of δr was minor when λ increased. therefore the influence of yield stress was less significant.
It could be explained that the change of λ would not affect the cross-
sectional stiffness of specimen, which was directly related to the local 3.4.4. Impact energy (E)
deformation. The Δm and Δr increased with the increase of λ, for the Jones et al. [24], Wang et al. [45,48,49], Kristoffersen et al. [51],
stability of specimen was decreased when λ increased. and Han et al. [52] found that the deformation of tubular specimens
would increase with the development of initial impact velocity (V0) or
weight of hammer (m) through lateral impact experiments. In order to
3.4.3. Yield stress of steel (σy) investigate the influence of E on the impact performance of the UHSS
The influence of the yield stress of steel (σy) on Fm, Δm, Δr and δr of hollow tube, it is necessary to keep I of each specimen constant when
tubes is shown in Fig. 21. With the consideration of commonly used changing E. The height of hammer, which determined the initial impact
steel grades in China, the yield stress of steel of each specimen was velocity, was changed to 2 m, 3 m, 5 m, 6 m and 7 m, whilst the

Table 6
Scheme of parametric study.
ID/Parameters D /mm Le /mm t /mm n N0 /kN σy /MPa H /m V0 /(m/s) m /kg E /J I /(kg m/s)

Prototype 325 3600 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282

Diameter to thickness ratio 325 3600 5 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 6 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 7 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 9 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 10 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
Slenderness ratio 325 2100 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 2600 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3100 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 4100 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 4600 8 0 0 1300 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
Yield stress of steel 325 3600 8 0 0 235 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 345 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 460 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 550 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 690 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 780 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 850 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 960 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1100 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1200 4 8.85 1500 58.8 13,282
Impact energy 325 3600 8 0 0 1300 2 6.26 2121 41.6 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 3 7.67 1732 50.9 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 5 9.90 1342 65.7 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 6 10.84 1225 72.0 13,282
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 7 11.71 1134 77.8 13,282
Impact momentum 325 3600 8 0 0 1300 7 11.71 857 58.8 10,040
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 6 10.84 1000 58.8 10,844
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 5 9.90 1200 58.8 11,879
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 3 7.67 2000 58.8 15,336
325 3600 8 0 0 1300 2 6.26 3000 58.8 18,783
Axial load level 325 3600 8 0 0 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.1 839 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.2 1678 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.3 2517 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.4 3356 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.5 4195 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.6 5034 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696
325 3600 8 0.7 5873 1300 2 6.26 750 14.7 4696

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 19. Influence of diameter to thickness ratio (D/t).

Fig. 20. Influence of slenderness ratio (λ).

Fig. 21. Influence of yield stress of UHSS (σy).

Fig. 22. Influence of impact energy (E).

corresponding weight of hammer was changed to 2121 kg, 1732 kg, 3.4.5. Impact momentum (I)
1342 kg, 1225 kg and 1134 kg respectively at the same time to ensure The influence of the impact momentum (I) on Fm, Δm, Δr and δr of
that all specimens were subjected to the same I value of 13280 kg m/s. UHSS tubes is shown in Fig. 23. Similarly, when the height of hammer
The values of impact energy of each specimen were 41.6 kJ, 50.9 kJ, was changed to 2 m, 3 m, 5 m, 6 m and 7 m, the corresponding weight of
58.8 kJ, 65.7 kJ, 72.0 kJ and 77.8 kJ, respectively. Fig. 22 showed that hammer was taken as 3000 kg, 2000 kg, 1200 kg, 1000 kg and 857 kg,
the impact force Fm and deformations Δm, Δr and δr increased when E respectively, to keep the same impact energy (E) of 58.8 kJ. The values
increased within the range of E mentioned above. Compared with the of impact momentum of each specimen were 10,040 kg m/s,
typical specimen, when E increased by 32.8%, Fm, Δm, Δr and δr in- 10,844 kg m/s, 11,879 kg m/s, 13,282 kg m/s, 15,336 kg m/s and
creased by 13.4%, 32.1%, 55.2% and 11.6%, respectively. 18,783 kg m/s. It could be found that the impact momentum I only had
moderate influence on Fm, Δm, Δr and δr. For the impact force Fm, it was

W. Li et al. Thin-Walled Structures 134 (2019) 524–536

Fig. 23. Influence of impact momentum (I).

Fig. 24. Influence of axial load level (n).

positively associated with the ratio of impact momentum I and duration half of the mid-span cross section was bent inwards after impact
of first impact (t0) according to the momentum principle. The impact incident. The failure pattern was close to that of normal strength
duration t0 would decrease with the decrease of weight of hammer steel tube under lateral impact loading.
[40]. The calculated ratio of I/t0 of each specimen had no obvious (2) The bilinear stress-strain curve was used for the UHSS material in
change with the variation of I. Therefore the impact force was nearly the establishing of FE model. The Cowper-Symonds model was used
unchanged. The magnitudes of deformations Δm, Δr and δr were mainly to simulate the strain rate effect under low velocity impact tenta-
affected by kinetic energy input. Therefore, they were almost un- tively. The proposed FE model could provide reasonable accuracy
changed when the kinetic energy E kept the same, even when the input in the prediction of the behaviour of UHSS tube under lateral im-
momentum I was different. pact loading.
(3) The reaction force increased, while the mid-span deflection, the
3.4.6. Axial load level (n) residual local and global deformation decreased with the increase
In order to avoid large deformation and instability of UHSS tube of yield stress of steel tube when the same impact energy was ap-
under axial loading, the height and weight of hammer in the base plied. For the UHSS tubes, the impact force and deformations of
specimen in Table 6 were changed to 2 m and 750 kg respectively while steel tube under lateral impact were less sensitive to the change of
other parameters remained the same. The axial load was kept constant yield stress when compared to that of normal strength steel tube.
during the impact. The axial load levels n considered were 0, 0.1, 0.2, The lateral deformation decreased by 62% when the yield stress
0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6 and 0.7. Fig. 24 shows that with the increase of n, Fm changed from 235 MPa to 690 MPa, while it decreased by 25%
decreased, while Δm, Δr and δr increased. Over-large deformation was when the yield stress changed from 690 MPa to 1300 MPa.
developed and the calculation diverged when n was 0.7. The impact (4) The parametric study indicated that the performance of UHSS
force Fm decreased by 31.7% when n varied from 0 to 0.5, while Δm, Δr hollow tubes under transverse impact was affected by the diameter
and δr increased by 62.5%, 967.0% and 125.4%, respectively. The in- to thickness ratio and slenderness ratio of specimen and impact
crease of axial load level could reduce the impact resistance of UHSS energy, while the impact momentum had minor effect on the im-
hollow tube and enhance the deformations. It might due to the fact that pact force and deformations of specimen. The impact force de-
higher axial load level caused yielding to occur earlier that leads to creased while the lateral deformation increased under large axial
local hinging. Furthermore, when n was less than 0.4, Δm was hardly pre-load.
changed with the increase of n, as the maximum deformation of spe-
cimen during the first collision was mainly affected by the impact en- Acknowledgements
ergy when under a relatively small n.
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from
4. Conclusions the Natural Science Foundation of China (51838008) and the Australian
Research Council Discovery Grant (DP150100442).
In this study, a total of six UHSS hollow tubes were tested at the
falling-weight impact test machine and a finite element model was es- References
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