When a pair of parallel buckling beams of unequal thickness make lateral contact under increasing compression, eventually either the thin or the thick beam will snap, leading to collective motion of the beam pair. Using experiments and FEM simulations, we find that the distance D between the beams selects which beam snaps first, and that the critical distance D∗ scales linear with the combined thickness of the two beams. To understand this behavior, we show that the collective motion of the beams is governed by a pitchfork bifurcation that occurs at strains just below snapping. Specifically, we use a model of two coupled Bellini trusses to find a closed form expression for the location of this pitchfork bifurcation that captures the linear scaling of D∗ with beam thickness. Our work uncovers a novel elastic instability that combines buckling, snapping and contact nonlinearities. This instability underlies the packing of parallel confined beams, and can be leveraged in advanced metamaterials.

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Elsevier B.V.
Extreme. Mech. Lett.
Mechanical Metamaterials

Kwakernaak, L., Guerra, A., Holmes, D., & van Hecke, M. (2024). The collective snapping of a pair of bumping buckled beams. Extreme. Mech. Lett., 69, 10216: 1–7. doi:10.1016/j.eml.2024.102160