# Bigoni and Noselli experiment: Is it evidence for flutter in the Ziegler column?

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## Abstract

The paper is inspired by recent experiment with a two-member discrete column subjected to dry friction force of interaction between the moving column and a moving plane. The experiment was presented in the form of a YouTube film and recommended as an experimental evidence for flutter in the Ziegler column. We show that the tested mechanism cannot be identified with the original Ziegler column.

## Keywords

Ziegler column Follower load Friction force Stability Experiment Theory## 1 Introduction

The history of studies on stability of columns subjected to compressive forces goes back to Euler who analyzed the static buckling of elastic compressed rods and formulated the theory of buckling even now being used in the courses of strength of materials as a first attempt to address the stability problems of light load-carrying structures [1]. The problem was refreshed and attracted much attention of scientists in structural mechanics in the second half of the last century when flutter was theoretically found as a result of so-called follower forces that change their direction, following the current configuration of a system they act on (Bolotin [2]). Earlier, Ziegler [3] found flutter instability in a discrete two-degree-of-freedom double-rod system, now well-known as the Ziegler column.

Publication by Elishakoff [7] caused more interest of scientists in theoretical and experimental studies of mechanisms subjected to follower forces of various physical nature and technical importance [8]. The most important reference to the present paper is the experiment by Bigoni and Noselli [9] presented also in the form of a YouTube film and recommended as an evidence for flutter in the Ziegler column. In the following, we show the differences between the tested real mechanism and the Ziegler column in its original concept and formulation.

## 2 Models of the Ziegler column and the mechanism being tested in[9]

*m*attached to the middles of each of them, see Fig. 1b. In further simplification, it has been assumed that lengths of the weightless rods are the same (

*l*), both particle masses and torsional stiffnesses of the joints the same too. The follower force

*F*remains a purely tip-concentrated circulatory load. Since we face with particles instead of lengthy beams, the derivation of kinetic energy of the whole system becomes exceptionally easy and hence the making use of Lagrange’s formalism quickly brings the final form of the equations of motion which are given below:

*r*:

*q*make the dots (eigenvalues) travel along the ordinates and come in pairs closer to each other. Until they eventually meet, the system is still stable. Things get qualitatively changed when the eigenvalues merge and create only two pairs, which happens at \(q=3\). This is some criticality above which (\(q>3)\) the characteristic roots move clockwise along a circle—one eigenvalue with a negative real part, the other with positive, both with nonzero imaginary parts. This situation is the onset of dynamic instability known in mechanics as flutter—self-excited vibration of a certain amplitude established by nonlinearity embedded in the system. Exceeding \(q=13/3\), one finds out that both roots reach abscissa with nonzero real parts what obviously entails another type of instability-divergence. Zeroed all imaginary parts (\(Im\{r\}=0)\) and only a single positive real part of any root (\(Re\{r\}=0)\) are the evidence of no vibration and inevitable drift of the initial equilibrium to infinity. All the above-described behavior of the eigenvalues can also be shown in a bit different manner, see Fig. 3, where the real and imaginary parts are separately displayed and expressed as a function of magnitude of the applied load

*q*.

The experiment by Bigoni and Noselli is exactly an interesting proposal and method to test the theory. The authors and designers [9] conceived a tricky idea of making a mechanical system non-conservative and follower loaded. They added a perpendicularly oriented roller to the tip of the second arm of the Ziegler column and harnessed dry friction to do the final job. The friction is generated between the roller and a rough band moving steadily with constant velocity *V* beneath the roller. The friction force comes from slipping in the point of contact of the roller and the translating band. Neglecting inertia of the roller as well as rolling resistance, such a structural solution may indeed produce a concentrated load that follows the direction (\(\varphi _2 )\) of the second element of the Ziegler column.

The main intention of this paper is to investigate the problem of inertia of the roller and its effect on the dynamics of the entire system, now being a three-degrees-of-freedom one. The regions of stability and the extent of how they might be affected by the additional DOF are of special interest in the subsequent considerations. Admittedly, some discussion on that topic has been already taken up by Bigoni et al. [10].

## 3 Ziegler column with a roller

*x*and rotation of the roller denoted by \(\psi \). According to König’s theorem, the kinetic energy is:

*i*-th element, \(v_{Ci} \)–velocity of its center of gravity, \(I_{C1} \) and \(I_{C2} \) moments of inertia of the arms with respect to the central axes \(z_{C1} \) and \(z_{C1} \), respectively, \({\varvec{\omega }}_3 \)—vector of the rotation velocity of the roller, \(\mathbf{I}_3 \)—tensor of inertia expressed in the principal coordinate system of the roller. The following hold:

*z*axis together with the second arm of the column \(\omega _z =\omega _2 =\dot{\varphi }_2 \). To clarify the description, introduce now a coordinate system fixed to the roller and based on its principal axes of inertia \(Bn\tau z\), see Fig. 4. In that case:

*O*and

*A*. These are linear springs, and thus their energy is:

*R*is the normal force in the contact point, \(\mathbf{w}\)—vector of relative velocity of the bottom point of the roller with respect to the moving band,

*w*—magnitude of this velocity \(w=|\mathbf{w}|\). Neglecting any gyroscopic effect due to spatial motion of the roller, it is allowable to assume that \(R=\hbox {const}\). The relative velocity is the difference between the absolutely velocity of the bottom point (

*K*) of the roller which is in contact with the moving bang slipping beneath the roller and the absolute velocity of the band

*V*, see Fig. 5.

*K*of the roller is:

*n*is the number of real forces (\(n=1\) in the problem considered, the friction force only), \(\mathbf{r}_i \) are position vectors of the real forces (there is only one such vector \(\mathbf{r}_1 =\mathbf{r}_K )\). Thus:

## 4 Stability of the system

The above algebraic equation yields three pairs of complex conjugate roots in general. Their values have been determined through numerical simulation carried out for various parameters of \(\nu , \rho , \mu , a, l, V\) and a growing load *q*. Exemplary results are shown in Fig. 8 for \(\nu =\rho = \mu =0.1, l=1 \hbox {m}, V=0.1 \hbox {m/s, } a=0.1 1/s^{\hbox {2}}\)and the force increasing quasi-statically and starting from zero. The results take into account the effect of inertia of the roller and its influence on the direction of the friction force which remains no longer purely follower, see (22). A diagram showing real and imaginary parts of the obtained eigenvalues is given in Fig. 8. Black lines are the eigenvalues of the classical Ziegler problem for a two-degrees-of-freedom column, and the gray lines depict the analyzed 3-DOF system, i.e. the column with the roller and friction force deviating from the follower direction. As can be seen, the system is degenerate (one pair of eigenvalues is zero—the gray horizontal line in both diagrams coinciding with the abscissa). This is because of the third column in the matrix \(\mathbf{Q}\), which contains zeros only, see (39) and (40), and which, physically, means that the roller may rotate without any elastic restriction (infinitely).

Nevertheless, both results, that are purely academic (black curves) and theoretical but including some aspects of Bigoni’s experiment (gray ones), are in qualitative agreement. Theoretical considerations of the modified (3-DOF) Ziegler-like column confirm the existence of the experimentally proved in [9] regions: stability, flutter and divergence versus growing load *q*. Some quantitative differences between both findings mainly concern the onset of flutter which appears for *q* below 3 in the column equipped with the roller. And that is in agreement with the conclusion drawn by Bigoni et al. in their contribution [10].

## 5 Concluding remarks

The experimental effort made by Bigoni and Noselli with coworkers on a mechanism exhibiting flutter and divergence instabilities induced by dry friction is impressive. The authors proved that dry friction may cause flutter like the follower force does in the exclusively theoretical Ziegler column. The smart technical solution proposed by the investigators is an inventive concept. However, the mechanism being tested is not strictly the Ziegler column. It is a Ziegler-like structure only.

The intention of the present paper was to indicate that in practical conditions the analyzed system loses its academic purity and becomes a three-degrees-of-freedom system instead of a 2-DOF one like in the classical formulation. The generated friction force is not exactly follower as it generally has a transverse component, caused by the inertia of the roller. In consequence, the follower force is not constant in magnitude but depends on the configuration and velocities. The mechanism becomes the Ziegler column if the roller is massless.

Nonetheless, the final results occurred to be in full qualitative agreement with the outcomes presented in [9] and [10]. The examined system behaves like Ziegler’s—it has regions of stable operation, self-excited vibration and divergent instability. It should be emphasized that the model excludes by assumption the stick-slip phenomena often encountered in systems with dry friction. In other words, velocity of the moving band should be high enough to eliminate the stick-slip effect. Moreover, the model shows singularity in the neighborhood of equilibrium when the band velocity tends to zero. It results from the discontinuous characteristic of Coulomb dry friction. The problem remains open, and further research work is expected.

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