Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

William Altenhof


Aluminum, Axial Cutting, Energy Absorber, High Capacity, Tensile Loading




The current state-of-the-art for sacrificial tensile energy absorbers presents a plethora of issues, ranging from, but not limited to, erratic fluctuations, unrepeatability and unstable force responses. Energy absorption in a tensile application is a field of study where limited research has been conducted, in comparison to compressive energy absorption. Axial cutting, a mode of energy absorption which has been studied extensively under compressive experimental conditions, provides steady force-displacement responses. The impetus of this study involves the design of a novel test apparatus to implement axial cutting in a tensile mode of deformation. A pre-existing analytical model was utilized to design, size and precisely engineer energy absorbers with adaptive profiles to produce unique force responses under tensile loading. The experiments were conducted under a quasi-static loading condition, utilizing fixtures to modify a hydraulically powered tensile apparatus with a maximum loading capacity of 300 kN. AA6061 T6 and T4 extrusions were utilized as energy absorbers, with wall thicknesses varying from 0.799 mm to 3.175 mm. Tensile force efficiencies ranged from 75% to as high as 95%. Total energy absorption values ranged from 2.2 kJ to 7.7 kJ. Specific energy absorption values ranged from 12 kJ/kg to 16 kJ/kg. These values exceed standards imposed by currently existing tensile energy absorbers. High stability and repeatability were observed between tests, with limited variance. High accuracy numerical models were created and simulated on LS-DYNA ®. Validation metrics and cumulative errors of 0.904 and 0.095 were computed, respectively.