Towards Intelligent Structures: Active Control of Buckling

Unknown author (1994-05-01)

The buckling of compressively-loaded members is one of the most important factors limiting the overall strength and stability of a structure. I have developed novel techniques for using active control to wiggle a structural element in such a way that buckling is prevented. I present the results of analysis, simulation, and experimentation to show that buckling can be prevented through computer-controlled adjustment of dynamical behavior.sI have constructed a small-scale railroad-style truss bridge that contains compressive members that actively resist buckling through the use of piezo-electric actuators. I have also constructed a prototype actively controlled column in which the control forces are applied by tendons, as well as a composite steel column that incorporates piezo-ceramic actuators that are used to counteract buckling. Active control of buckling allows this composite column to support 5.6 times more load than would otherwise be possible.sThese techniques promise to lead to intelligent physical structures that are both stronger and lighter than would otherwise be possible.