Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
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Structures buckling under tensile dead load

D. Zaccaria

D. Zaccaria

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Trieste, piazzale Europa 1, Trieste, Italy

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D. Bigoni

D. Bigoni

Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, Trento, Italy

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G. Noselli

G. Noselli

Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, Trento, Italy

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D. Misseroni

D. Misseroni

Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, Trento, Italy

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    Some 250 years after the systematic experiments by Musschenbroek and their rationalization by Euler, for the first time we show that it is possible to design structures (i.e. mechanical systems whose elements are governed by the equation of the elastica) exhibiting bifurcation and instability (‘buckling’) under tensile load of constant direction and point of application (‘dead’). We show both theoretically and experimentally that the behaviour is possible in elementary structures with a single degree of freedom and in more complex mechanical systems, as related to the presence of a structural junction, called ‘slider’, allowing only relative transversal displacement between the connected elements. In continuous systems where the slider connects two elastic thin rods, bifurcation occurs both in tension and in compression, and is governed by the equation of the elastica, employed here for tensile loading, so that the deformed rods take the form of the capillary curve in a liquid, which is in fact governed by the equation of the elastica under tension. Since axial load in structural elements deeply influences dynamics, our results may provide application to innovative actuators for mechanical wave control; moreover, they open a new perspective in the understanding of failure within structural elements.

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