The Deployable Structures Laboratory was founded by Dr Sergio Pellegrino
in 1990 to develop new, generic solutions and to better understand the
behaviour of existing deployable
structures. Some general results that have been obtained include folding
conditions for two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures with "scissors"
joints and packaging conditions for thin membranes. Recent advances in
the computational modelling of multi-body systems have led to more accurate
simulations of the folding and unfolding process. The research group is
active in many new fields, including Smart and Adaptive Structures, the
use of piezoelectric and shape-memory alloy materials in structural actuators,
and the design of special, geometrically bi-stable structures using composite
materials. They have strong industrial links, particularly with the Aerospace
Industry and the European Space Agency.
Dynamic deployment of 1 metre diameter
prototype of Collapsible Rib-Tensioned Surface Reflector, developed
by the European Space Agency. The strain energy stored in the elastic
ribs of the reflector is released during deployment.
Launch and in-orbit deployment of Inflatable
Antenna Experiment (Courtesy of NASA).
3.5 metre diameter prototype of cable-stiffened
pantographic reflector. Deployment is driven by two motor-controlled
cables running on smooth pulleys. The same two cables apply a state
of pre-stress onto the fully-deployed structure, ensuring uniform
pretension of all cables. A stiff cable network provides a series
of accurately located support points for the reflective surface (not
included in this model).
New concept for a deployable solid-surface
antenna. The surface is divided into panels connected by single-degree-of-freedom
hinges (revolute joints) forming six wings that are connected by coupling
rods. Deployment is driven by six electric motors.
Inflation of an Aluminium tube that has
been pre-folded according to a triangulated pattern. By choosing special
dimensions for the triangles, the tube can be folded and deployed
without deforming the triangles.
Aluminised mylar folded in complex, computer-generated
patterns is the key to this deployable structure designed for use
in space. Expansion and contraction of the aluminium-alloy frame is
controlled by a cable powered by an electric motor.