A relief cutting method, or kerfing, is considered to create flexible freeform surfaces from relatively stiff and thick panels. The flexibility and moldability are achieved by introducing slender components within the panel, forming kerf patterns, and hence reducing the second moment and polar moment of an area of the solid panel. This paper presents a systematic study on the deformations of kerf unit-cells and of kerf panels. Two different kerf patterns, i.e., square and hexagon, with various cut densities are studied. The effects of different cutting density and kerf patterns on the stretching, bending, and twisting deformations are examined. Understanding the influence of kerf patterns and cut densities on various deformation mechanisms will guide the design of freeform complex shapes out of kerf panels. Experimental tests were performed on unit-cells under different boundary conditions, e.g., uniaxial and biaxial stretching and bending. The tests were also performed on kerf panels with different kerf patterns and varying cut densities. We used a nonlinear beam element in order to describe the deformations of the slender components within the kerf patterns. We compared the overall deformations in the kerf unit-cells and panels from the beam element model and experimental tests. Using the kerfing technique allows for generating flexible structures with complex geometries from mass-produced panels of standard shape and size. When using the kerfing method to achieve the desired surface topology, the stresses, strains, and displacements in the surface will depend on the kerf pattern, cut density, and constituent behavior.
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Chen, R., Turman, C., Jiang, M. et al. Mechanics of kerf patterns for creating freeform structures. Acta Mech (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00707-020-02713-8