In this paper, the large amplitude vibrations of clamped-clamped thin viscoelastic rectangular plates due to a concentrated transversal harmonic load are investigated both theoretically and experimentally. Clamped boundary condition on all edges and von Kármán nonlinear strain-displacement relationships are considered while rotary inertia, geometric imperfections, and shear deformation are neglected. In the theoretical study, the viscoelastic behaviour of the material is modelled using the Kelvin-Voigt model. In-plane loads applied during the assembly of the plate are taken into account and clamped boundary conditions are modelled using artificial rotational springs. The nonlinear ordinary differential equations for the considered Kelvin-Voigt model are obtained using the generalized energy approach. These equations contain quadratic and cubic nonlinear viscoelasticity terms in addition to quadratic and cubic stiffness terms. Non-dimensionalization of variables is carried out and each second order equation is converted into two first order equations. The resulting system of equations is solved using AUTO (software based on the arclength continuation method that allows bifurcation analysis), to get the frequency-response curves at various force levels. Moreover numerical time integration of equations was also performed using the fourth-order Runge-Kutta method to understand the time response of the structure. In the experimental study, two rubber plates with different material and thicknesses were considered; a silicone plate with 0.0015 m thickness and a neoprene plate with 0.003 m thickness. The plates were fixed on a heavy rectangular metal frame thereby ensuring the clamped boundary condition on all edges. Linear experimental modal analysis was carried out as a first step to estimate the mode shapes and natural frequencies. In the second step, the nonlinear vibration response of the plate around its first resonance was measured at various harmonic force levels. At each force level, the amplitude of the harmonic excitation was kept constant by LMS Data Acquisition System and Test.Lab Stepped Sine software module while slowly varying the frequency of excitation to get the frequency-response curves. Laser Doppler Vibrometry was used to measure the response from the plate as it eliminates the possible mass loading effect introduced by any contact type sensors. A maximum amplitude of more than three times the thickness of the plate was achieved. The nonlinear response curves showed a typical hardening type nonlinearity along with sudden jumps as expected for plates. Experimental frequency-response curves were compared with theoretical results and a good agreement was found. The influence of nonlinear viscoelastic damping terms was clearly noticed on the response curves of the plate. The retardation time, measured in seconds decreases with increasing excitation force and larger amplitude vibrations.

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