When a flat elastic strip is compressed along its axis, it is bent in one of two possible directions via spontaneous symmetry breaking, forming a cylindrical arc. This is a phenomenon well known as Euler buckling. When this cylindrical section is pushed in the other direction, the bending direction can suddenly reverse. This instability is called "snap-through buckling" and is one of the elementary shape transitions in a prestressed thin structure. Combining experiments and theory, we study snap-buckling of an elastic strip with one end hinged and the other end clamped. These asymmetric boundary constraints break the intrinsic symmetry of the strip, generating mechanical behaviors, including largely hysteretic but reproducible force responses and switchlike discontinuous shape changes. We establish the set of exact analytical solutions to fully explain all our major experimental and numerical findings. Asymmetric boundary conditions arise naturally in diverse situations when a thin object is in contact with a solid surface at one end. The introduction of asymmetry through boundary conditions yields new insight into complex and programmable functionalities in material and industrial design.
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