A non-linear rod model for folded elastic strips

RodPaper

We consider the equilibrium shapes of a thin, annular strip cut out in an elastic sheet. When a central fold is formed by creasing beyond the elastic limit, the strip has been observed to buckle out-of-plane. Starting from the theory of elastic plates, we derive a Kirchhoff rod model for the folded strip. A non-linear effective constitutive law incorporating the underlying geometrical constraints is derived, in which the angle the ridge appears as an internal degree of freedom. By contrast with traditional thin- walled beam models, this constitutive law captures large, non-rigid deformations of the cross-sections, including finite variations of the dihedral angle at the ridge. Using this effective rod theory, we identify a buckling instability that produces the out-of-plane configurations of the folded strip, and show that the strip behaves as an elastic ring having one frozen mode of curvature. In addition, we point out two novel buckling patterns: one where the centerline remains planar and the ridge angle is modulated; another one where the bending deformation is localized. These patterns are observed experimentally, explained based on stability analyses, and reproduced in simulations of the post-buckled configurations.

M. A. Dias and B. Audoly JMPS (2014) Arxiv and Journal.