Crushing of thin-walled spheres and sphere arrays

Haihui Ruan, Z. Y. Gao, T. X. Yu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Due to its ideal material properties and very small but uniform wall thickness, ping pong balls are selected to study the plastic crushing behavior of thin-walled spheres and sphere arrays. In experiments, single spheres were compressed by point-load, rigid ball, rigid plate, rigid cap or double rigid balls. A number of bifurcation phenomena are identified and their effect on the crushing force is illustrated. It is noted that when two ping pong balls compress each other, the snap-through deformation randomly occurred in one of the balls while the other one remained undeformed or only deformed elastically. This fact allows us to conveniently employ a single ball's load-deformation relation for predicting the 1-D or 2-D array's load-deformation behavior. A very good agreement between the prediction and the experimental result is shown. If the ping pong balls are connected, the connection part, which can be simulated by a rigid cap, transforms the ball from a type I to a type II structure. Thus, when compressing a 1-D array of connected balls, the deformation will be localized in a ball until the force increases to a certain value, which crushes the next ball. Such a crushing force depends on the size of the connection part, as demonstrated in the case of compression by a rigid cap.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Mechanical Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Crushing behavior
  • Large plastic deformation
  • Ping pong ball
  • Sphere array

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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