We uncover how nonlinearities dramatically alter the buckling of elastic beams. First, we show experimentally that sufficiently wide ordinary elastic beams and specifically designed metabeams-beams made from a mechanical metamaterial-exhibit discontinuous buckling, an unstable form of buckling where the postbuckling stiffness is negative. Then we use simulations to uncover the crucial role of nonlinearities, and show that beams made from increasingly nonlinear materials exhibit an increasingly negative postbuckling slope. Finally, we demonstrate that for sufficiently strong nonlinearity, we can observe discontinuous buckling for metabeams as slender as 1% numerically and 5% experimentally.

Phys. Rev. Lett.
Mechanical Metamaterials

Coulais, C, Overvelde, J.T.B, Lubbers, L.A, Bertoldi, K, & van Hecke, M. (2015). Discontinuous buckling of wide beams and metabeams. Phys.Rev.Lett., 115(4, Article number: 044301), 1–5. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.044301