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AEROSPACE 305W STRUCTURES & DYNAMICS LABORATORY

Laboratory Experiment #2

Column Buckling

February 7, 2012

Connor Hoover

Lab Partners: Ethan Corle Kaitlynn Hetrick Anthony Parente Stephen Prichard

Course Instructor: Dr. Stephen Conlon Lab TA: Pauline Autran

Abstract
During this experiment six different columns were subjected to compressive loads until buckling. These columns were of three lengths two 18 inch, two 21 inch, and two 24 inch columns. Each column was secured into an apparatus one of two ways, either it was clamped in or simply supported. While the loading was applied the force of these loads and the deflection of the midpoint of the beam were measured, by a load cell and a linear variable differential transformer respectively. This data was used to find experimental critical loads which were compared to theoretical values calculated using equations in column buckling theory. From this comparison it was concluded that the column buckling equations, while showing percent error between the two sets of values, can accurately model column buckling behavior. Experimental and human error were more to blame for the error between the values, due to such reasons as prior column fatigue, the non-rigidity of the end conditions of the column, and the non-ideal conditions of the experimental apparatus itself. Other conclusions shown in the data is the magnitude of the critical loads inversely proportional relationship with the length of the column and that a clamped column is more resistant to buckling than a simply supported beam.

I.

Introduction

This experiment focuses on the topic of column buckling and structural stability, important subjects in aerospace structures design. Due to the need to minimize weight, aerospace structures are generally constructed of thin-walled members with relatively extended cross sections. These types of structures are more likely to fail through compressive instability or buckling than by the exceeding the materials strength limits. Another aspect of this lab is end fixity, how a column is fixed to a structure will affect when the column will buckle. In this experiment three stainless steel columns of different lengths were subjected to compressive loads to measure the deflection of the column along with the critical load, which causes the column to buckle when applied. The goals of this lab were to show how a column reacts when it is subjected to a compressive load, to see how a simply supported column and a clamped column will differ in their reactions to this loading, to see how changing the length of the column effects the magnitude of its critical load, and to see if column buckling theory matches experimental data. Theoretical critical loads for simply supported columns calculated using the equation:

Pcr =

2 EI L2

(1)

Theoretical critical loads for clamped columns calculated using the equation

4 2 EI Pcr = L2

(2)

II.

Experimental Procedure

Figure 1 below shows the experimental apparatus. A vertical beam specimen is supported by blocks at both ends; the blocks at each end are shown in Figure 2. This form of support block allows for the use of both simply supported and clamped end conditions. A compressive load is applied to the specimen by turning the load wheel. This load is measured by the load cell attached to the load wheel. A LVDT is used to measure the transverse deflection of the midpoint of the column.

Figure 1. The Experimental Apparatus

Figure 2. Support Block

The experiment itself is completed using three Stainless Steel columns, but in three different lengths; 18 inches, 21 inches, and 24 inches. Each length is tested with two different end conditions. The first run through is using a simply supported column, the second run is using a clamped column.

This amounts to 6 different data trials. During a specific trial, after the column is put in place, the horizontal beam of the apparatus must be leveled. After the beam is leveled, a balance mass will be attached to the pulley string, thus negating any load added by the horizontal beam had on the column. Then, after the zeroing of the LVDT, loads will be applied to the column by turning the load wheel. The loads will increase gradually, as the indicated compressive load and the midspan deflection are recorded, until the column buckles. This process should be repeated for all three lengths of columns in both support structures to complete the experiment.

Table 1. Dimensions and Characteristics of Columns

III.
Asymptotic Technique:

Results and Discussion

The results of this lab are as follows:

Graph A.1 18 inch Column Load (lbs.) vs. Deflection (in.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 325 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 263 lbs.
Graph A.2 21 inch Column Load (lbs.) vs. Deflection (in.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 367 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 104 lbs.

Graph A.3 24 inch Column Load (lbs.) vs. Deflection (in.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 237 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 98 lbs. Imperfection accommodation technique:
Graph I.1 18 inch Column Deflection (in.) vs. Deflection/Load (in./lbs.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 464.58 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 186.72 lbs.

Graph I.2 21 inch Column Deflection (in.) vs. Deflection/Load (in./lbs.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 359.68 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 109.41 lbs.
Graph I.3 24 inch Column Deflection (in.) vs. Deflection/Load (in./lbs.)

Found critical loads: Pcr(clamped) = 336.96 lbs. Pcr(simply supported) = 77.506 lbs.

Table 1 Critical Loads and Percent Error- Simply Supported Column Lengths (in.) 18 21 24 Theory Pcr (lbs.) 104.057 76.45 88.566 Asymptotic Pcr (lbs.) 263 104 98 % error 152.74 61 36.036 63 10.651 94 Imper. Pcr (lbs.) 186.72 109.41 77.506 % error 79.440 11 43.113 15 12.487 86

Table 2 Critical Loads and Percent Error- Clamped Column Graph 3. Critical Stresses (psi) vs. Effective Slenderness Ratio

This lab showed how changing the lengths of a column will effect the critical load required for the column to buckle. As shown in the abouve tables and plots the largest recorded critical loads were in the 18 inch columns. The lowest recorded critical loads were found in the 24 inch columns. So as column length increases the magnitude of the critical load decreases. End conditions also will effect the critical load required for the column to buckle. In the data above the largest recorded critical loads were recorded in the columns that were clamped into the apparatus, while the simply supported columns required lower critical loads to buckle the column. The last plot shows the critical stress vs. the effective slenderness ratio for all the specimens. Using a power regression it can be seen that critical stress is inversley proportional to slenderness ratio squared. This agrees with the equation (3) found in the appendix. The data shown in the plots and tables gives a perspective on column buckling in an experimental settings. For the most part, the experimental data matches the values predicted by the theoretical data closely. This is shown in Tables 1 and 2 in which the percent error between the theoretical values and those found through the asymptotic and imperfection methods are relitively low. With only one trial exceeding fifty percent error. Some possible sources of error arise from the use of the columns in prior trials, causing fatigue or hardening from being previously loaded. Another source of error could be that the apparatus did not effectively load the specimens evenly, this could be caused by either the horizontal beam being unlevel or just a flaw in the specimen itself. An uneven loading could cause the column being more apt to buckle in one direction while being more resistant to buckle in the other. Lastly, when it comes to the boundry conditions of the columns: w(0) = 0 and w(L) = 0, which are used to calculate the theoretical equations, cannot hold true in an experimental setting. No system in the world can create a completely rigid boundry condtion that will never allow any deflection at the ends of a column. So, a small portion of the error can be found in this assumption.

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IV.

Conclusions

This objective of this lab was to demonstrate column buckling theory in an experimental setting. This was done by subjecting three columns with varying lengths to compressive loads, while using two different end conditions to secure the specimens to the apparatus. From these trials critical loads were calculated from the data collected, to meet the objectives of this lab.
Now the first objective of this lab was to show how a column reacts when subjected to a compressive load. From column buckling theory and the data above, it can be concluded that a column subjected to a compressive load will begin to deflect until reaching a critical load. At this critical load the column buckles and stops deflecting, causing an asymptote on the load vs. deflection curve in the plots above. Another conclusion from the data is that the shorter the column the higher the critical load will be. Throughout the experiment the 18 in. column was more resistant to buckling than the 21 in. and 24 in. columns. This caused the critical load of the 18 in. column to be larger than that of the 24 in. column. From this it can be concluded that the magnitude of the critical load is inversely proportional to the length of the column; so as length increases critical will decrease. The data also shows a relationship between the end conditions of a column and its critical load. The columns that were clamped into the apparatus the critical loads were of a higher magnitude than the columns that were only simply supported by the end blocks. This leads to the conclusion that a column that is more rigidly attached to a body or system will be more resistant to buckling. Lastly, from the data above, while there is error shown above between the theoretical and experimental values, the equations derived from column buckling theory are an accurate model for columns subjected to a compressive load. The two methods of calculating the critical load, asymptotic and imperfection accommodation, both gave similar values to the theoretical data that remained for the most part within reasonable levels of percent error. Also, the critical stress vs. effective slenderness ratio shows the relationship that was expected, while using all the values of critical loading. Therefore it can be concluded that the model is fairly accurate. Some possible places the error seen between the values can come from are that the end conditions are not entirely rigid at the bases of the column; the columns have been subjected to prior loadings that could skew the data; lastly that the apparatus might not have distributed the compressive load evenly due to either human error or a flaw in its design.

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Some improvements can be made to get better results from this experiment. For one, new specimens should be used for the experiment for each trial run. While there were two different beams used for the different end conditions, these beams were still used in prior experiments by other groups. So to get better data these columns should be brand new for every trial. Another improvement would be to find a better apparatus, one that is more accurate in the loads being spread evenly across the specimen. Overall this lab was a success in that it met the goals established in the introduction. Data was collected from columns, with both clamped and simply supported end conditions, of varying lengths which were subjected to a compressive load till buckling. From this data the critical load was calculated and compared to the theoretical values calculated from column buckling theory. And in conclusion, the theoretical values calculated were a fairly accurate model of the experimental buckling.

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Appendix
Equation (1) Simply Supported Column Boundary Conditions:

1) w(0) = 0 2) w( L) = 0 3) EIw' ' (0) = 0 4) EIw' ' (0) = 0 w = C1 sin( kx) + C 2 cos kx + C 3 x + C 4
Solving for k to plug into equation for P you get Equation (1) Equation (2) Clamped Column Boundary Conditions:

1) w(0) = 0 2) w( L) = 0 3) EIw' (0) = 0 4) EIw' (0) = 0 w = C1 sin( kx) + C 2 cos kx + C 3 x + C 4


Solving for k to plug into equation for P you get Equation (2) Equation (3) Critical Stress

cr = c
Also

2E (L / r) 2

cr =

Pcr A L

Equation (4) Effective Slenderness ratio

s=

r c

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