Team member project: Adaptive Joints with Variable Stiffnes.
Most civil structures are over-engineered as a result of being designed to meet strength and rigidity requirements to withstand worst-case loading scenarios which in practice occur very rarely. Instead structures could employ adaptation through controlled shape changes in order to counteract the effect of loads (e.g. stress, deformation) and to achieve multi-functionality. This project investigates numerically and experimentally an active and a passive adaptation strategy which employ variable stiffness materials. In both adaptation strategies, the structure is designed to work as a monolithic mechanism thus requiring a significant flexibility of the joints. To address this challenge, a variable stiffness joint is proposed. Stiffness variation is achieved employing materials with transduction properties and by tuning material distribution strategically.