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Buckling and instability for structural members under compression Introduction A design for a structure and its members in general should satisfy the strength, deformation/deflection and stability requirements. Materials strength and fracture toughness are considered for avoiding excessive stress caused failures of material yielding, rupture and fracture. Many structural members such as machine parts are required to satisfy deformation/deflection limits due to functioning considerations. The focus of this lab is the members subject to compressive loads, for which the buckling critical stresses are considered in addition to the materials compressive yield limits.

On Oct 29, 2013, a crane on Whitehall of Parliament in central London is shown collapsed during a storm with high winds of 70 mph

Theory The theory of column buckling is covered in basic mechanics of materials. Briefly, the buckling is a failure phenomenon of loss of structural stability under compression, but it is related to the columns lateral deflection. The actual failure, as typically shown in the above picture, is frequently encountered in engineering structures of slender members subject to compression.

The maximum axial load that a structural component such as a column can support on the verge of buckling is called the critical load, Pcr. Any load greater than Pcr will cause the column to buckle and deflect laterally. To analyze the buckling, recall a slender column under load with a pinned base O as shown in Fig 1. For the force balance, two active moments about O are considered. One is the moment by a spring force F to restore the lateral deflection, which is given by where L is the length of the column, K is the spring constant, and is the angle the column is deviated from its vertical stable position. The second moment is the overturning moment due to the applied axial compressive force P

Fig. 2 Stable and unstable conditions along with critical load force/moment

The loss of stability happens when the static equilibrium is no longer satisfied due to the excessive compression. Referring to Fig. 2 a limiting force P exists that

The limit is called the critical load, , which marks the transition from stable to unstable case. The situation is in analogy to the ball on a surface as shown below.

An ideal column is the one that satisfies the following conditions, including that the column is initially perfectly straight, the load is applied through the center of the cross section, the material is homogeneous and linear elastic, and the column buckles and bends in one single plane. For a column pinned at both ends, the following simple differential equation comes from the elastic beam equation obtained in basic beam analysis:

(1)

where E is the elastic modulus, I is the cross-sectional moment of inertia, v''= d2v/dx2 is the second derivative of the elastic curve of the beam, and M is the internal moment due to the beams defection. As shown in Fig. 4 below, for the column under a compressive force P, if a lateral deflection v occurs the bending moment M = Pv.

Equation (2) is an order 2 homogeneous linear differential equation with constant coefficients. The general solution for this equation is: (3) The constants of integration are determined based on the boundary conditions at the ends of the column. In this case it is v = 0 at x = 0 and x=L. The solution gives the critical load as (4) . Equation (4) is known as Euler formula. Pcr is increased with the larger cross sectional moment of inertia and elastic modulus but decreased with the length of the member. Here the materials strength plays no direct role in the buckling. However, it controls the members failure if the yielding happens before it buckles.

Since the buckling load limit is determined theoretically based on an ideal column with all the assumptions as mentioned, a large safety margin must be applied in determining the actual critical buckling load based on Pcr. The critical loads for ideal columns with different end/ boundary conditions are given as:

These equations can be summarized in one single equation (5) where Le KL is the effective length defined by the actual length as well as a factor K. K represents the end constraint condition of a column, as illustrated in Fig. 5 below. To express the critical loading condition in terms of stress for the convenience of design or (6)

In Eqn. (6), if the column member has variable or non-symmetric cross-section k = I /A is chosen as the smallest radius of gyration determined from the least moment of inertia I of the columns cross-section. The term, Le /k is called the slenderness ratio. In the design of a column, both the strength and stability must be considered. The applied stress is limited by the critical buckling stress cr as well as the materials yield strength o. To satisfy both, let or (7)

Knowing the yield strength o, the ratio Le /k can be solved from the above equation. The ratio determines the proportion of the columns geometric configuration in terms of its length and cross section, at which the transition of the columns compressive behavior from yielding to buckling will happen.

The ratio of Le /k solved from the above Eqn. (7) is called the minimum slenderness ratio of the column: (8) The transition between yielding and buckling is illustrated in the graph plotting the Le /k relation, as shown in Fig. 6. The left-hand graph shows three regions where region I is for the short-column of which the general yielding will occur first at = o; region II is for the intermediate-column in which the column may yield or buckle and region III is for long columns for which the buckling will occur. Actual transition is not as sharp as the figure shows. Instead, an empirical relation in the right is used where region II is often fit by a parabola.

Fig.6 Stress vs. slenderness ratio (left); stress vs. slenderness ratio with parabolic fit in region II (right) 5

Fig 8. The test unit fits into the frame in Fig.7 for strut buckling experiment 7

Apparatus and setting-up The apparatus includes the test frame and the test unit along with all the accessories as shown in Fig. 7 and 8. There are 5 struts made of aluminum alloy for testing. The specifications of the specimens are given in Table 1 below. Before the tests start, precautions should be excised for test preparation.

During the entire lab session, the safety and security should be always kept in mind. The instructions will be given to ensure the users to

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