Structure-Borne Traveling Waves (SBTWs) have significant promise as a means of underwater propulsion, drag reduction, and solid-state motion. However, there is poor understanding of how to tailor SBTWs favorable for these applications. This study establishes guidelines and a straight-forward method for generating favorable SBTWs on two-dimensional (2D) surfaces. SBTWs are a novel traveling wave generation method that take advantage of a surface’s inherent structural properties (i.e. mode shapes and natural frequencies). Due to this novel mechanism, SBTWs have significant advantages over other traveling wave methods. This includes active variability (propagation direction, frequency, wavelength), no reliance on complex control mechanisms, and a minimal actuation footprint (small size and weight). SBTWs utilize the two-mode excitation method, whereby a surface is harmonically excited at two locations with a phase offset between them. Due to the phase offset, participating mode shapes superimpose to yield steady-state traveling waves that do not reflect at the boundaries. A SBTW at a given frequency has an optimal phase offset that maximizes the quality; however, high quality does not ensure favorability for a specific application. For propulsion and solid-state motion applications, favorable SBTWs are those that have a uniform propagation direction and consistent amplitude. Using a previously validated electro-mechanical model of a 2D plate, this study demonstrates the generation of SBTWs favorable for such applications. It is shown that the frequency bandwidth can be divided into regions, and each region is classified as generating favorable or unfavorable SBTWs. The favorability of each region is defined by which mode shapes participate. Two guidelines are established that define which combinations of mode shapes yield favorable SBTWs. These guidelines are fundamental in nature, implying that they can be extended to generate favorable SBTWs on any thin-walled surface. This signifies that geometries with tailored SBTWs can be designed to target specific applications (e.g. underwater propulsion, drag reduction, and solid-state motion).

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