Associate Professor of Solid and Structural Mechanics

Elastica Catastrophe Machine

The theory, the design and the experimental validation of a catastrophe machine based on a flexible element are addressed for the first time. A general theoretical framework is developed by extending that of the classical catastrophe machines made up of discrete elastic systems. The new formulation, based on the nonlinear solution of the elastica, is enhanced by considering the concept of the universal snap surface. Among the infinite set of elastica catastrophe machines, two families are proposed and investigated to explicitly assess their features. The related catastrophe locus is disclosed in a large variety of shapes, very different from those generated by the classical counterpart. Substantial changes in the catastrophe locus properties, such as convexity and number of bifurcation points, are achievable by tuning the design parameters of the proposed machines towards the designof very efficient snapping devices. Experiments performed on the physical realization of the elastica catastrophe machine fully validate the present theoretical approach. The developed model can find applications in mechanics at different scales, for instance, in the design of new devices involving actuation or hysteresis loop mechanisms to achieve energy harvesting, locomotion, and wave mitigation.

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