Pressure Actuated Cellular Structures

Lightweight and energy efficient shape changing structures.

There exists a wide range of technologies that would immensely benefit from robust, strong, lightweight and
energy efficient shape changing structures. For example, currently used aircraft slats are relatively heavy and the gaps
between wings and slats increase noise levels particularly during take off and landing. Another example are passenger
seats that are designed for an average human body.

We have developed a novel concept for adaptive structures that is inspired by the nastic movement of plants. This
concept allows the design of actuators that can change their shape between any given set of one-dimensional C 1 con-
tinuous functions.

A cantilever that is made from a number of identical pentagonal or hexagonal cells that consist of rigid cell side
and frictionless, central hinges deforms into a circular arc after pressurization. The radius of the circular arc is solely
a function of the cell side lengths. Two different cantilevers can be connected if opposite cell sides are of equal length.
The resulting structure can, depending on the cell row pressures, change its shape between two different circular arcs.
We have shown that it is possible to compute each cell side length such that the structure deforms into given target
shapes for certain cell row pressures. Furthermore, pressure actuated cellular structures can be made from materials
that range from elastomers to steel.

Our current software can be used to efficiently optimize the geometry of cell corners, hinges and cell sides of com-
pliant pressure actuated cellular structures for given target shapes and material properties. The optimization results are
provided in a vector graphic format so that they can be directly sent to a rapid prototyping machine. This technology
might thus be a key in the realization of gapless high lift devices. More details can be found in the literature below.


Markus Pagitz
Pressure Actuated Cellular Structures
Postdoctoral Thesis (2018, available on request)


Markus Pagitz, Remco I. Leine
Shape optimization of compliant pressure actuated cellular structures
International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics (2017)


Markus Pagitz, Manuel Pagitz, Christian Hühne
A modular approach to adaptive structures
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (2014)


Markus Pagitz, Jens Bold
Shape-changing shell-like structures
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (2013)


Markus Pagitz, Ettore Lamacchia, J.M.A.M. Hol
Pressure-actuated cellular structures
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (2012)

Markus Pagitz

Markus Pagitz


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