Mechanics of Air-Inflated Drop-Stitch Fabric Panels Subject to Bending Loads
NAVAL UNDERSEA WARFARE CENTER DIV NEWPORT RI
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Rapid deployability and mobility of lightweight structures, namely inflatable structures, are of growing significance to the military and space communities. When deployment and rigidity are driven by pressure for example, air or fluid and materials such as textiles, elastomers, and flexible composites are used for the structure, significant load-carrying capacity per unit weight or per-unit stowed volume can be achieved. Specifically, the pressurized air directly provides the stiffness to support structural loads, thus eliminating the requirement for heavy metal stiffeners that are used in conventional rigid structures. The technologies, materials, and system behaviors for these inflatable structures, however, are not sufficiently understood. Furthermore, predictive performance and analysis methods and test standards have not been adequately established because the structural behaviors of inflatable fabric structures often involve coupled effects from inflation pressure such as fluid-structure interactions, thermo-mechanical coupling, and nonlinear constitutive responses of the fabrics all of which can restrict the use of conventional design, analysis, and test methods. The research documented in this report focuses on the mechanics of air-inflated drop-stitch fabric panels that are subject to bending loads. Both analytical and experimental methods are used the results of experimental four-point bend tests conducted at various inflation pressures were used to validate the analytical method, and predicted and experimentally obtained data such as deflections, wrinkling onset moments, ultimate loads, and pressure changes were compared.
- Structural Engineering and Building Technology