Measuring and modeling the dynamics of stiffened thin-film polyimide panels

Jonathan T. Black, Suzanne Weaver Smith, Jack Leifer, Larry Bradford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Stiff, ultralightweight thermal-formed polyimide panels are examples of next-generation space structures that address someof the issuesofmembrane- dominated ultralightweight structures while maintaining their low mass and low stowage volume characteristics. The research presented here involved dynamically characterizing and modeling two of these panels, one 0:0625 m2 with a mass of 38 g and the other 0:1875 m2 with a mass of 81 g, to develop validated computer models that can be used to determine the effects of changing manufacturing parameters and scalability. Modal testing using an impact hammer and accelerometer extracted the first four structural natural frequencies, the first occurring at 71.9 Hz. These data were replicated by simple, coarsely meshed shell element finite element models that are significantly smaller than previous finite element models of similar structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-500
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is a portion of a Ph.D. dissertation through the University of Kentucky, Suzanne Weaver Smith and Jack Leifer advisors, and George Blandford and Kozo Saito committee members. It was performed under a NASA Graduate Student Research Program fellowship, grant NNL04AA21H, Richard Pappa advisor, and a NASA Small Business Innovation Research grant, Larry Bradford Principal Investigator. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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