Use of Piezoelectric Actuators to Effect Snap-Through Behavior of Unsymmetric Composite Laminates

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Virginia Tech

As a new concept for morphing structures, the use of piezoelectric actuators to effect snap-through behavior of simple unsymmetric cross-ply composite laminates is examined. Many unsymmetric laminates have more than one stable room-temperature shape and can be snapped through from one stable shape to another. In this new concept for morphing structures, one or more piezoelectric actuators are bonded to unsymmetric laminates, and are then used to snap the laminate from one shape to another. The actuator would be used to change shape, but would not be required to maintain the shape. Using the Rayleigh-Ritz technique, several models are developed to predict the interaction between the base laminate and the actuator. In particular, the voltage (applied to the actuator) needed to snap the laminate is predicted. The NASA-LaRC Macro-Fiber Composite&174; (MFC&174;) actuator is chosen as the actuator of choice for this work. A laminate is manufactured, an actuator is bonded to the laminate, and experiments are performed. Since the agreement between the initial models and experimental results was not good, the models were revised. Good agreement between the predictions of the revised model and experiment is reached. Suggestions for future research directions are presented.

morphing structures, MFC&174, actuator, unsymmetric laminates, composite materials, snap-through behavior