Bifurcation Analysis of a Piecewise-Smooth Freeplay System
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Physical systems that are subject to intermittent contact/impact are often studied using piecewise-smooth models. Freeplay is a common type of piecewise-smooth system and has been studied extensively for gear systems (backlash) and aeroelastic systems (control surfaces like ailerons and rudders). These systems can experience complex nonlinear behavior including isolated resonance, chaos, and discontinuity-induced bifurcations. This behavior can lead to undesired damaging responses in the system. In this work, bifurcation analysis is performed for a forced Duffing oscillator with freeplay. The freeplay nonlinearity in this system is dependent on the contact stiffness, the size of the freeplay region, and the symmetry/asymmetry of the freeplay region with respect to the system’s equilibrium. Past work on this system has shown that a rich variety of nonlinear behaviors is present. Modern methods of nonlinear dynamics are used to characterize the transitions in system response including phase portraits, frequency spectra, and Poincaré maps. Different freeplay contact stiffnesses are studied including soft, medium, and hard in order to determine how the system response changes as the freeplay transitions from soft contact to near-impact. Particular focus is given to the effects of different initial conditions on the activation of secondary- and isolated-resonance responses. Preliminary results show isolated resonances to occur only for softer-contact cases, regions of superharmonic resonances are more prevalent for harder-contact cases, and more nonlinear behavior occurs for higher initial conditions.