Numerical Simulation of Inflatable Membrane Structures
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Inflatable structures are effective in space applications, as they are weight, volume and cost competitive For certain space applications, higher gains are obtained for the antennas by increasing their size. Higher gains often result in increased data throughput. These and other advantages lead to inflatable structures being considered increasingly for building large space structures. However, large inflatable structures are prone to surface errors arising from environmental factors, among others. The degradation in the performance may be reduced by active and passive control of the shape of the antennas by using appropriate sensors. In this context, piezoelectric films are used for the active and passive control. In this paper, we discuss both experimental and numerical approaches exploring piezoelectric film. In order to explore the applications of piezoelectric films, a circular diaphragm is subjected to varying pressures and displacements are measured using laser instrumentation. The effects of applying voltage on the shape of the piezoelectric film subjected to pressurization are studied. The piezoelectric film is modeled as a large displacement/large rotation geometrically nonlinear membrane undergoing small strains. This paper presents experience gained in modeling the piezoelectric film subjected to both thermal and pressure loads. The numerical results are presented in the form of graphs. The response is studied for applied steady-state temperatures for various pressurization levels. Certain thermo-structural instabilities were encountered in the modeling and the paper presents procedures used in circumventing such instabilities for the piezoelectric type of thin inflatable membranes.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.436561
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