28 November 2018
Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
We study the dynamics of snap-through when viscoelastic effects are present. To gain analytical insight we analyse a modified form of the Mises truss, a single-degree-of-freedom structure, which features an ‘inverted’ shape that snaps to a ‘natural’ shape. Motivated by the anomalously slow snap-through shown by spherical elastic caps, we consider a thought experiment in which the truss is first indented to an inverted state and allowed to relax while a specified displacement is maintained; the constraint of an imposed displacement is then removed. Focussing on the dynamics for the limit in which the timescale of viscous relaxation is much larger than the characteristic elastic timescale, we show that two types of snap-through are possible: the truss either immediately snaps back over the elastic timescale or it displays ‘pseudo-bistability’, in which it undergoes a slow creeping motion before rapidly accelerating. In particular, we demonstrate that accurately determining when pseudo-bistability occurs requires the consideration of inertial effects immediately after the indentation force is removed. Our analysis also explains many basic features of pseudo-bistability that have been observed previously in experiments and numerical simulations; for example, we show that pseudo-bistability occurs in a narrow parameter range at the bifurcation between bistability and monostability, so that the dynamics is naturally susceptible to critical slowing down. We then study an analogous thought experiment performed on a continuous arch, showing that the qualitative features of the snap-through dynamics are well captured by the truss model. In addition, we analyse experimental and numerical data of viscoelastic snap-through times reported previously in the literature. Combining these approaches suggests that our conclusions may also extend to more complex viscoelastic structures used in morphing applications.
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