Actuation of fluidic flexible matrix composites in structural media

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Fluidic flexible matrix composite (F2MC) tubes have been shown to provide actuation and stiffness change in applications that require isolated tubes or multiple tubes embedded in a soft matrix. Structural applications often require stiff and strong composites, however, so this article addresses the actuation performance of F2MC tubes embedded in structural media. Two analytical models are developed based on Lekhnitskii's solutions for a homogeneous orthotropic cylinder with axial force and pressure loading. These unit cell models are cylindrical and bilayer with the inner layer being a thick-walled F2MC tube and the outer layer representing the surrounding rigid composite and are composed of either homogeneous epoxy or a second FMC layer made with stiffer matrix material. The models are validated using ABAQUS. Free strain and blocked force are calculated for a variety of unit cell designs. The analytical results show that actuation performance is generally reduced compared to that of an isolated F2MC tube due to the radial and longitudinal constraints imposed by the surrounding structural medium. The free strain is generally two orders of magnitude smaller for an F2MC tube in structural media, requiring higher actuation pressures for bilayer F2MC structures. The blocking force of F2MC in either epoxy or composite is roughly an order of magnitude smaller than that of an isolated F2MC tube. The analysis shows a great degree of tailorability in actuation properties, so that the F2MC tube can be designed to minimize these differences. Higher actuation performance is achieved, for example, with a thick-walled F2MC tube, as opposed to the thin wall that maximizes performance in an isolated F2MC tube.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-278
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering


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