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Thin walled polymer balloon deflection

  1. May 28, 2013 #1
    I am designing an inflatable balloon (long and thin like those used to make balloon animals) with a purpose to support a force in a manner like a cantilever.

    I am struggling to find literature/assistance regarding the calculations required to determine balloon deflection under a standard perpendicular force. I don't know how to equate the hoop/axial stresses, the elastic modulus of the material and lastly the equations for simple beam deflection.

    If anyone can shed some light on this problem I would be grateful!

  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2013 #2


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    That's because the balloon doesn't act like a beam. The skin of the balloon is a membrane and the physics of how it reacts to loads imposed on it are much more complicated and difficult to solve than for a beam or even a structure constructed out of a thin, rigid shell. With structures constructed from metal shells, like an airplane fuselage, certain simplifications can be made concerning how much the plate can deflect relative to its thickness which allow one to make calculations without a lot of work. Because the skin of a balloon is so thin, these simplifications cannot be applied, and the problem becomes much more complicated.
  4. May 28, 2013 #3


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    One possibility would be to study the research done on automobile airbags.
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