The impacting cantilever: modal non-convergence and the importance of stiffness matching

John Melcher, Alan R. Champneys*, David J. Wagg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The problem of an Euler-Bernoulli cantilever beam whose free end impacts with a point constraint is revisited from the point of view of modal analysis. It is shown that there is non-uniqueness of consistent impact laws for a given modal truncation. Moreover, taking an N-mode compliant, bilinear formulation and passing to the rigid limit leads to a sequence of impact models that does not converge as N -> infinity. The dynamics of such truncated models are studied numerically and found to give rise to quite different dynamics depending on the number of degrees of freedom taken. The simulations are compared with results from simple experiments that show a propensity for multiple-tap dynamics, in which higher-order modes lead to rapidly cycling intermittent contact. The conclusion reached is that, to derive an accurate model, one needs to avoid the impact limit altogether, and take sufficiently many modes in the formulation to match the actual stiffness of the constraining stop.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20120434
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1993
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2013


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