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Curvature regularization near contacts with stretched elastic tubes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
DateSubmitted - 22 Feb 2019


Bringing a rigid object into contact with a soft elastic tube causes the tube to conform to the surface of the object, resulting in contact lines. The curvature of the tube walls near these contact lines is often large and is typically regularized by the finite bending rigidity of the tube. Here, we show using experiments and a F\"{o}ppl--von K\'{a}rm\'{a}n-like theory that a second mechanism of curvature regularization occurs when the tube is axially stretched. The radius of curvature obtained is unrelated to the bending rigidity of the tube walls, increases with the applied stretching force and decreases with sheet thickness, in contrast with the effects of finite bending rigidity. %Moreover, the axial force decreases the contact area between the tube and the intruding object, potentially reducing the drag necessary to propel the object through the tube.
We show that these features are due to an interplay between geometry and mechanics specific to elastic tubes, but one that is absent from both planar sheets and spherical shells.



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