The Sphereprint: An approach to quantifying the conformability of flexible materials

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Sageman-Furnas, AO ; Goswami, P ; Menon, G ; Russell, SJ (2014)
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications

The Sphereprint is introduced as a means to characterize hemispherical conformability, even when buckling occurs, in a variety of flexible materials such as papers, textiles, nonwovens, films, membranes and biological tissues. Conformability is defined here as the ability to fit a doubly curved surface without folding. Applications of conformability range from the fit of a wound dressing, artificial skin, or wearable electronics around a protuberance such as a knee or elbow to geosynthetics used as reinforcements. Conformability of flexible materials is quantified by two dimensionless quantities derived from the Sphereprint. The Sphereprint ratio summarizes how much of the specimen conforms to a hemisphere under symmetric radial loading. The Coefficient of Expansion approximates the average stretching of the specimen during deformation, accounting for hysteresis. Both quantities are reproducible and robust, even though a given material folds differently each time it conforms. For demonstration purposes, an implementation of the Sphereprint test methodology was performed on a collection of cellulosic fibrous assemblies. For this example, the Sphereprint ratio ranked the fabrics according to intuition from least to most conformable in the sequence: paper towel, plain weave, satin weave, and single knit jersey. The Coefficient of Expansion distinguished the single knit jersey from the bark weave fabric, despite them having similar Sphereprint ratios and, as expected, the bark weave stretched less than the single knit jersey did during conformance. This work lays the foundation for engineers to quickly and quantitatively compare the conformance of existing and new flexible materials, no matter their construction.
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