The transient motion of a simply supported, rigid-plastic beam in response to a uniformly distributed pressure pulse of arbitrary shape is determined. The beam is subject to an axial force in addition to the transverse pressure. This axial force is a parameter that can approximate constraint forces resulting from deformation of beams with fixed or elastically restrained ends. The pulse shape that maximizes deflection at the center of the beam is determined for a specified applied impulse. When a transverse pressure applies a limited amount of impulse to the beam, an impulsive load causes the largest deformation. Axial force decreases the deformation but has no effect on the most efficient pulse shape.

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