Methodical fitting for mathematical models of rubber-like materials
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Destrade, Michel, Saccomandi, Giuseppe, & Sgura, Ivonne. (2017). Methodical fitting for mathematical models of rubber-like materials. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science, 473(2198). doi: 10.1098/rspa.2016.0811
A great variety of models can describe the nonlinear response of rubber to uniaxial tension. Yet an in-depth understanding of the successive stages of large extension is still lacking. We show that the response can be broken down in three steps, which we delineate by relying on a simple formatting of the data, the so-called Mooney plot transform. First, the small-to-moderate regime, where the polymeric chains unfold easily and the Mooney plot is almost linear. Second, the strain-hardening regime, where blobs of bundled chains unfold to stiffen the response in correspondence to the 'upturn' of the Mooney plot. Third, the limiting-chain regime, with a sharp stiffening occurring as the chains extend towards their limit. We provide strain-energy functions with terms accounting for each stage that (i) give an accurate local and then global fitting of the data; (ii) are consistent with weak nonlinear elasticity theory and (iii) can be interpreted in the framework of statistical mechanics. We apply our method to Treloar's classical experimental data and also to some more recent data. Our method not only provides models that describe the experimental data with a very low quantitative relative error, but also shows that the theory of nonlinear elasticity is much more robust that seemed at first sight.