Functional buckling behavior of silicone rubber shells for biomedical use

E.B. Houwen, van der, L.H. Kuiper, J.G.M. Burgerhof, B.F.A.M. Laan, van der, G.J. Verkerke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Background The use of soft elastic biomaterials in medical devices enables substantial function integration. The consequent increased simplification in design can improve reliability at a lower cost in comparison to traditional (hard) biomaterials. Functional bi-stable buckling is one of the many new mechanisms made possible by soft materials. The buckling behavior of shells, however, is typically described from a structural failure point of view: the collapse of arches or rupture of steam vessels, for example. There is little or no literature about the functional elastic buckling of small-sized silicone rubber shells, and it is unknown whether or not theory can predict their behavior. Is functional buckling possible within the scale, material and pressure normally associated with physiological applications? An automatic speech valve is used as an example application. Method of approach Silicone rubber spherical shells (diameter 30 mm) with hinged and double-hinged boundaries were subjected to air pressure loading. Twelve different geometrical configurations were tested for buckling and reverse buckling pressures. Data were compared with the theory. Results Buckling pressure increases linearly with shell thickness and shell height. Reverse buckling shows these same relations, with pressures always below normal buckling pressure. Secondary hinges change normal/reverse buckling pressure ratios and promote symmetrical buckling. All tested configurations buckled within or closely around physiological pressures. Conclusions Functional bi-stable buckling of silicone rubber shells is possible with adjustable properties in the physiological pressure range. Results can be predicted using the proposed relations and equations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-54
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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