Vol. 2, No. 2, 2007

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Bistable structures for energy absorption II. Composite structures under tension

Zachary Whitman and Valeria La Saponara

Vol. 2 (2007), No. 2, 359–375

This paper discusses proof-of-concept experiments of composite bistable structures and is preceded by a companion paper about metallic bistable structures. A bistable structure is characterized by a stress/strain curve with stable branches separated by unstable branches. We were interested in a particular bistable structure: one that, once activated, has a second stronger state with the ability to sustain higher loads. This allows for a better distribution of damage, and in addition the structure keeps its integrity for a longer time. Positive results on metallic configurations under tensile loading have prompted us to try and identify an equivalent composite configuration, able to show directional control of damage through this material-driven mechanism. Chain-like configurations with different reinforcements (T-300 carbon fibers, Kevlar®; 49, E-glass and Dyneema®;), polyurethane foam core and Kevlar stitching were conceived, designed, fabricated and investigated. Dyneema prototypes turned out to exhibit the desired bistable behavior as well as higher energy absorption than their baselines.

composite, energy absorption, bistable, Dyneema
Received: 30 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
United States