We distinguish between, and discuss the applicability of, two levels of rigidity in rigid-body collision modeling.

For rigidity in the strong, force-response, sense collisional contact deformations must be highly localized. The bodies then move according to 2nd order rigid-body mechanics during the collision. Incremental collision laws and most collision models using continuum mechanics for the contact region depend on force-response rigidity.

For rigidity in the weaker, impulse-response, sense the deformations need not be localized but displacements during the collision need to be small everywhere. Only the time-integrated rigid-body equations, involving before-collision and after-collision velocities, then need apply. Although a force-response rigid body is also impulse-response rigid the converse is not true. Algebraic collision laws depend only on impulse-response rigidity. Elastic vibration models of collisions are also generally consistent with impulse-response rigidity.

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