Vol. 2, No. 2, 2007

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ISSN: 1559-3959
Bistable structures for energy absorption I. Metallic structures under tension

Zachary Whitman and Valeria La Saponara

Vol. 2 (2007), No. 2, 347–358

This paper presents proof-of-concept experiments on metallic bistable structures, and is followed by a companion paper about experiments on composite bistable structures. A bistable structure is characterized by a stress/strain curve with stable branches separated by unstable branches. The authors were interested in a particular bistable structure, one that once activated, has a second stronger state which has the ability to sustain higher loads. This allows for a better distribution of damage. In addition, the structure keeps its integrity for a longer time, leading to a fail safe design. Results on metallic configurations under tensile loading are shown in this paper. In particular, chains with one, two, and three bistable elements of 5052-H32 aluminum were designed, manufactured, tested, and compared to their corresponding baselines. A strain energy increase from 11% to about 30% is shown with respect to the baselines. Moreover, a comparative study with A36 annealed mild steel and C10100 copper shows the effect of the different ductility and stiffness on energy absorption.

tension, metal, energy absorption, bistable
Received: 30 May 2006
Revised: 31 May 2006
Accepted: 26 September 2006
Published: 1 April 2007
Zachary Whitman
Southwest Research Institute
Valeria La Saponara
Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
One Shields Ave
University of California
Davis, CA 95616-5294