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Published January 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

Quasi-Static Folding and Deployment of Ultrathin Composite Tape-Spring Hinges


Deployable structures made from ultrathin composite materials can be folded elastically and are able to selfdeploy by releasing the stored strain energy. This paper presents a detailed study of the folding and deployment of a tape-spring hinge made from a two-ply plain-weave laminate of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. Aparticular version of this hinge was constructed, and its moment-rotation profile during quasi-static deployment was measured. The present study is the first to incorporate in the simulation an experimentally validated elastic micromechanical model and to provide quantitative comparisons between the simulations and the measured behavior of an actual hinge. Folding and deployment simulations of the tape-spring hinge were carried out with the commercial finite element package Abaqus/Explicit, starting from the as-built unstrained structure. The folding simulation includes the effects of pinching the hinge in the middle to reduce the peak moment required to fold it. The deployment simulation fully captures both the steady-state moment part of the deployment and the final snap back to the deployed configuration. An alternative simulation without pinching the hinge provides an estimate of the maximum moment that could be carried by the hinge during operation. This is about double the snapback moment.

Additional Information

© 2010 by H. M.Y. C. Mallikarachchi and S. Pellegrino. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission. Presented as Paper 2008-2053 at the 49th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, Schaumburg, IL, 7–10 April 2008; received 22 September 2009; revision received 30 June 2010; accepted for publication 16 July 2010. H. M.Y. C. Mallikarachchi thanks the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and the California Institute of Technology for financial support. Financial support from the Northrop Grumman Corporation and the provision of materials from Hexcel, U.K. are gratefully acknowledged by the authors. The authors also thank Ahmad Kueh, Julian Santiago Prowald, and Michael Sutcliffe for helpful discussions.

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