Dynamic non-linear energy absorbers based on properly stretched in-plane elastomer structures
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Traditionally, elastomers are considered to be one of the best material candidates for the design of energy absorbing devices, due to their remarkable visco-elastic and extensibility material properties. This capability can be further enhanced by the design of appropriate Dielectric Elastomer Generators (DEGs). The present paper proceeds to another alternative direction, which consists of the design of appropriate elastomer structures with enhanced energy absorption capabilities, are attributed more to the appropriate non-linear design of the elastomer structure itself, than to the hyperelastic material properties of the elastomer members. For this reason, a simple chi-shaped in-plane elastic structure is considered, comprising one proof mass with four elastomer members attached to it, placed in a chi-shaped configuration, and being properly stretched. A systematic analysis is carried out, with respect to the variation of two basic structure design properties on the dynamic behavior: the orientation angle of the members and their initial pre-stress. The obtained results show that the variation of just these two basic parameters of the structure may lead to a quite rich and interesting non-linear dynamic behavior. More specifically, the traditional always-in-tension concept leads to a linear dynamic system response, even though the elastomer members are considered to have been made of a non-linear hyper-elastic material. Alternatively, a new partially-loose-member operating concept is analyzed. This concept suggests that some individual elastomer members be allowed to become loose for some period of the operating cycle, (but not all of them simultaneously), strongly enhancing the broadband energy absorbing capability of the structure itself.
KeywordsBroadband energy absorbing Softening Elastomer structures
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