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Buckling Euler

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75

Buckling

Buckling and Stability:

As we learned in the previous lectures, structures may fail in a variety of ways,

depending on the materials, load and support conditions. We had two primary

concerns: (1) the strength of structure, (i.e. its ability to support a given load without

excessive stress) or (2) the stiffness of a structure, (i.e. its ability to support a given

load without excessive deformation). We will now consider the stability of a structure

its ability to support a given load without experiencing a sudden change in its

configuration or shape. Our discussion will be primarily related to the analysis and

design of columns. A column is a straight, slender member subjected to an axial

compressive load. Such members are commonly encountered in trusses and in the

framework of buildings, but may also be found in machine linkages, machine elements

and optical systems.

If a compression member is relatively short, it will remain straight when loaded and the

load-deformation relations previously presented will apply. However, if the member is

long and slender, buckling will be the principle mode of failure. Instead of failing by

direct compression, the member bends and deflects laterally and we say the member

has buckled. In other words, when the compressive loads reach a certain critical value,

the column undergoes a bending action in which the lateral deflection becomes very

large with little increase in load. Failures due to buckling are frequently catastrophic

because they occur suddenly with little warning when the critical load is reached.

To illustrate the phenomenon of buckling in an elementary manner consider the

following idealized structure. The member is sized such that the design stress, = P/A,

is less than the allowable stress for the material and the deformation, = PL/AE is

within the given specifications. We may conclude that the column has been properly

designed. However, before the design load is reached, the column may buckle and

become sharply curved clearly an indication that the column has not been properly

designed.

OPTI 222 Mechanical Design in Optical Engineering

76

Stability of Structures:

We may gain insight into this problem by considering a simplified model consisting of

two rigid rods AB and BC connected at C by a pin and a torsional spring of constant K.

As shown below, if the two rods and the two forces P and P are perfectly aligned, the

system will remain in the equilibrium position, (a). However, if joint C is displaced

slightly to the right so that each rod now forms a small angle with the vertical, (b), will

the system be stable or unstable?

If joint C returns to the equilibrium position, the system is considered to be stable.

Otherwise, if joint C continues to move away from the equilibrium position, the system is

unstable.

We can determine if the system is stable or unstable by considering the forces acting on

rod AC. The forces consist of two couples, namely the couple formed by P and P and

the moment M.

OPTI 222 Mechanical Design in Optical Engineering

77

The moment, which tends to move the rod away from the vertical, is:

P (L/2) sin

Couple M, exerted by the spring, tends to bring the rod back to the vertical position.

Since the angle of deflection of the spring is 2, the moment of couple M is:

M = K (2)

If the moment of the second couple is larger than the moment of the first couple, the

system tends to return to its equilibrium position and is stable. However, it the moment

of the first couple is larger than the moment of the second couple, the system tends to

move away from the equilibrium position and is unstable. The value of the load for

which the two couples balance each other is called the critical load and is denoted by

P

cr

. Equating the two we have:

P

cr

(L/2) sin = K (2)

Applying small angle theory:

P

cr

= 4K /L

The system is stable for P < P

cr

(values of load less than the critical value) and unstable

for P > P

cr

.

Eulers Formula for Beams with Pin-Pin Connections:

To investigate the stability behavior of columns, we will begin by considering a long

slender column with pinned joints at each end. The column is loaded with a vertical

force P that is applied through the centroid of the cross section and aligned with the

longitudinal axis of the column. In addition, the loading is conservative (i.e. the force is

guided and remains vertical). The column itself is perfectly straight and is made of a

linearly elastic material that follows Hookes law. Thus, it is considered to be an ideal

column.

When the axial load P has a small value, the column remains straight and undergoes

only axial compression, = P/A. This straight form of equilibrium is stable and if

disturbed, the column will return to the straight position. As the axial load increases, we

will reach a condition of neutral equilibrium in which the column will have a bent

shape. The corresponding load is the critical load, P

cr

. At this load, the ideal column

may undergo small lateral deflections with no change in axial force and a small lateral

force will produce a bent shape that does not disappear when the lateral load is

removed. Thus, the critical load can maintain the column in static equilibrium in either

the straight position or in a slightly bent condition. At higher values of load, the column

is unstable and will collapse by bending.

OPTI 222 Mechanical Design in Optical Engineering

78

Now lets examine a free body diagram of the bend column. Recalling that a beam is a

structural member whose length is large compared to its cross sectional area, a column

can be considered as a vertical beam subjected to an axial load. As shown below, x

denotes the distance from the end of the column to a given point Q of its elastic curve

and y denotes the defection of that point. This is identical to our beam of previous

lectures, however the X axis in now vertical and directed downward and the Y-axis is

horizontal and directed to the right.

Summing moments about point Q, we have M = -Py. Therefore:

2

2

d y

EI M Py

dx

= =

Rearranging we have:

2

2

0

d y P

y

dx EI

+ =

Which is a linear, homogeneous differential equation of second order with constant

coefficients. Setting

2

P

k

EI

=

and introducing prime notation, we obtain:

OPTI 222 Mechanical Design in Optical Engineering

79

y + k

2

y = 0

The general solution of this equation is

y = C

1

sin kx + C

2

cos kx

To evaluate the constants of integration we use the boundary conditions at the ends of

the beam.

y(0) = 0 and y(L) = 0

The first yields C

2

= 0 and the second yields C

1

sin kL = 0. From this we conclude:

C

1

= 0 (trivial solution)

or

sin kL = 0 (nontrivial solution)

Therefore:

kL = n

Substituting for k we obtain:

2 2

2

n EI

P

L

= n =1,2,3

The smallest critical load for the column is obtained when n=1:

2

2

cr

EI

P

L

=

The above expression is known as Eulers formula and the critical load is also known

as the Euler load. The corresponding buckled shape is also called the mode shape.

Buckling of a pinned-end column in the first mode (n = 1) is called the fundamental case

of column buckling.

OPTI 222 Mechanical Design in Optical Engineering

80

Returning to the differential and substituting for P we obtain:

1 1

sin sin

n x

y C kx C

L

= = n=1,2,3

For the first mode of buckling (n = 1):

1

sin

x

y C

L

=

As shown of the previous page, the column buckles into a sine wave and the constant

C

1

represents the maximum deflection of the midpoint of the column. The value of C

1

is indeterminate and can be obtained from a nonlinear analysis. This is typically of little

concern because we are typically interested only in the value of the critical load.

The value of stress corresponding to the critical load is called the critical stress and is

denoted by

cr

. Therefore:

2

2

cr

cr

P EI

A AL

= =

Recalling from a previous lecture that the moment of inertia I = r

2

A, where r is the radius

of gyration. Substituting for I we obtain:

2

2 cr

E

L

r

=

The quantity L/r is called the slenderness ratio of the column.

As shown on the previous page, the critical stress is proportional to E and inversely

proportional to (L/r)

2

. For a constant value of E (E = 250 GPa), we can plot stress vs.

L/r.

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