“Wunderlich, Meet Kirchhoff”: A General and Unified Description of Elastic Ribbons and Thin Rods

  • Marcelo A. Dias
  • Basile AudolyEmail author


The equations for the equilibrium of a thin elastic ribbon are derived by adapting the classical theory of thin elastic rods. Previously established ribbon models are extended to handle geodesic curvature, natural out-of-plane curvature, and a variable width. Both the case of a finite width (Wunderlich’s model) and the limit of small width (Sadowksky’s model) are recovered. The ribbon is assumed to remain developable as it deforms, and the direction of the generatrices is used as an internal variable. Internal constraints expressing inextensibility are identified. The equilibrium of the ribbon is found to be governed by an equation of equilibrium for the internal variable involving its second-gradient, by the classical Kirchhoff equations for thin rods, and by specific, thin-rod-like constitutive laws; this extends the results of Starostin and van der Heijden (Nat. Mater. 6(8):563–567, 2007) to a general ribbon model. Our equations are applicable in particular to ribbons having geodesic curvature, such as an annulus cut out in a piece of paper. Other examples of application are discussed. By making use of a material frame rather than the Frenet–Serret frame, the present work unifies the description of thin ribbons and thin rods.


Elastic plates Elastic rods Energy minimization 

Mathematics Subject Classification

74K20 74K10 74G65 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRSUMR 7190 Institut Jean Le Rond d’AlembertParisFrance

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