Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)


Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering

First Advisor

David G. Taggart


Drop-stitch inflatable structures are of increasing significance in aerospace, naval, and military applications. The advantages of drop- stitch inflatable structures are high strength to weight ratios, rapid deployment capabilities and ease of storage. The stiffness of the structure increases with inflation pressure and is dependent on the material properties of the panel skin.

The objective of this research was to characterize the constituent material properties and mechanical response of drop-stitch inflatable panels subjected to various load conditions. This research aimed to characterize the nonlinear elastic response of drop-stitch inflatable panels by using a new material system in comparison to previous studies. These characterizations included three dimensional digital image correlation, uniaxial and biaxial loading, and panel inflation and bending experiments.

Material properties of the drop-stitch inflatable panel skin were experimentally determined across multiple experiments utilizing three dimensional-digital image correlation. In addition, three dimensional digital image correlation was used to characterize panel skin surface displacements and strains in a way not done before in previous drop-stitch structure research.

The results of this research found that relevant material properties of the dropstitch inflatable panel were able to be experimentally determined through multiple different experiments, however these material property values are extremely sensitive to load conditions. Further research is required to accurately predict the structural behavior from constituent characterization data.



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