The use of large-deflection springs, tabs, and other compliant systems to provide integral attachment, joining, and retention is well established and may be found throughout nature and the designed world. Such systems present a challenge for mechanical analysis due to the interaction of contact mechanics with large-deflection analysis. Interlocking structures experience a variable reaction force that depends on the cantilever angle at the contact point. This paper develops the mathematical analysis of interlocking cantilevers and provides verification with finite element analysis and physical measurements. Motivated by new opportunities for nanoscale compliant systems based on ultrathin films and two-dimensional (2D) materials, we created a nondimensional analysis of retention tab systems. This analysis uses iterative and elliptic integral solutions to the moment–curvature elastica of a suspended cantilever and can be scaled to large-deflection cantilevers of any size for which continuum mechanics applies. We find that when a compliant structure is bent backward during loading, overlap increases with load, until a force maximum is reached. In a force-limited scenario, surpassing this maximum would result in snap-through motion. By using angled cantilever restraint systems, the magnitude of insertion force relative to retention force can vary by 50× or more. The mathematical theory developed in this paper provides a basis for fast analysis and design of compliant retention systems, and expands the application of elliptic integrals for nonlinear problems.
Nonlinear Mechanics of Interlocking Cantilevers
Manuscript received August 22, 2017; final manuscript received October 11, 2017; published online October 27, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Junlan Wang.
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Brown, J. J., Mettler, R. C., Supekar, O. D., and Bright, V. M. (October 27, 2017). "Nonlinear Mechanics of Interlocking Cantilevers." ASME. J. Appl. Mech. December 2017; 84(12): 121012. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4038195
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