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This post discusses a solution for modeling a traveling load on Maplesim's Flexible Beam component and provides an example of a bouncing load.

The idea for the above example came from an attempt to reproduce a model of a mass sliding on a beam from MapleSim's model gallery. However, reproducing it using contact components in combination with the Flexible Beam component turned out to be not straightforward, and this will be discussed in the following.

To simulate a traveling load on the Flexible Beam component, one could apply forces at discrete locations for a certain duration. However, the fidelity of this approach is limited by the number of discrete locations, which must be defined using the Flexible Beam Frame component, as well as the way in which the forces are activated.

One potential solution to address the issue of temporal activation of forces is to attach contact elements (such as Rectangle components) at distinct locations along the beam, which are defined by Flexible Beam Frame components, and make contact using a spherical or toroidal contact element. However, this approach also introduces two new problems:

  • An additional bending moment is generated when the load is not applied at the center of the contact element's attachment point, the Flexible Beam Frame component. Depending on the length of the contact element, deformations caused by this moment can be greater than the deformation caused by the force itself when the force is applied at the ends of the contact element. Overall, this unwanted moment makes the simulation unrealistic and must be avoided.
  • When the beam bends, a gap (see below) or an overlap is created between adjacent Rectangle components. If there is a gap, the object exerting a force on the beam can fall through it. Overlaps can create differences in dynamic behavior when the radius of curvature of the beam is on the opposite side of the point of contact.

To avoid these problems, the solution presented here uses an intermediate kinematic chain (encircled in yellow below) that redistributes the contact force on the Rectangle component on two support points (ports to attach Flexible Beam Frame components) in a linear fashion.