This paper presents experimental investigations of vibration testing of an inflated, thin-film torus using smart materials. Lightweight, inflatable structures are very attractive in satelite applications. However, the lightweight, flexible, and highly-damped nature of inflated structures poses difficulties in ground vibration testing.

In this study, we show that PVDF patches and recently developed Macro-Fiber Composite actuators may be used as sensors and actuators in identifying modal parameters. Both smart materials can be integrated unobtrusively into the skin of a torus or space device forming an attractive testing arrangement. The addition of actuators and the PVDF sensors to the torus does not significantly interfere with the suspension modes of a free-free boundary condition, and both the actuators and PVDF sensors can be considered an integral part of the inflated structure. The results indicate the potential of using smart materials to measure and control the dynamic response of inflated structures.

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