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Proceedings Paper

Variable stiffness mechanisms with SMA actuators
Author(s): Damin J. Siler; Kimberly Balkema J. Demoret
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Paper Abstract

Variable stiffness is a new branch of smart structures development with several applications related to aircraft. Previous research indicates that temporarily reducing the stiffness of an airplane wing can decrease control actuator sizing and improve aeroelastic roll performance. Some smart materials like shape memory alloys (SMA) can change their material stiffness properties, but they tend to gain stiffness in their `power on' state. An alternative is to integrate mechanisms into a structure and change stiffness by altering boundary conditions and structural load paths. An innovative concept for an axial strut mechanism was discovered as part of research into variable stiffness. It employs SMA springs (specifically Ni-Ti) in a way that reduces overall stiffness when the SMA springs gain stiffness. A simplified mathematical model for static analysis was developed, and a 70% reduction in stiffness was obtained for a particular selection of springs. The small force capacity of commercially available SMA springs limits the practicality of this concept for large load applications. However, smart material technology is still immature, and future advances may permit development of a heavy-duty, variable stiffness strut that is small and light enough for use in aircraft structures.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 May 1996
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 2721, Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, (1 May 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.239158
Show Author Affiliations
Damin J. Siler, Air Force Wright Lab. (United States)
Kimberly Balkema J. Demoret, Air Force Wright Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2721:
Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies
C. Robert Crowe, Editor(s)

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