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Mechanics of Materials Laboratory

Cantilever Flexure Test

David Clark
Group C:
9/15/2006
Abstract
A cantilever beam, a beam supported at one point, has been used many times in
countless designs and structures. It is important to understand the behavior of this setup
to avoid any type of failure that might occur if this design is improperly used or executed.
The following experiment utilizes a cantilever test fixture, strain gages, and basic
principles of Statics to determine both theoretical and actual stress along a cantilever
beam. For the 2024-T6 aluminum beam tested, the measured strain was found to be 903,
601, and 293 microstrain along a 1, 4, and 7 inch spacing respectively. The calculated
strain was 1205, 751, and 297 microstrain along the same interval. This deviance in
measured and calculated values demonstrates the need to test all conditions and better
understand the limitations of calculations.

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Table of Contents
1. Introduction & Background............................................................4
1.1. General background...............................................................4
1.2. Calculating stress using Statics..............................................4
1.3. Load Estimate by Strain Relations and Hooke's Law............5
1.4. Load Estimation by Deflection................................................6
2. Equipment and Procedure............................................................7
2.1. Equipment and Setup.............................................................7
2.2. Test procedure for measuring the difference of two strain gages 8
2.3. Test procedure for measuring individual strain gages............9
3. Data, Analysis & Calculations.....................................................10
3.1. Known information................................................................10
3.2. Results..................................................................................10
3.3. Load calculations..................................................................11
3.4. Stress calculations................................................................11
4. Results........................................................................................13
4.1. Graphical Results.................................................................13
4.2. Comparison of Results.........................................................13
5. Conclusions.................................................................................14
6. References..................................................................................15
7. Raw Notes...................................................................................16

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1. Introduction & Background

1.1.General background

A cantilever beam refers to any beam that is supported at only one point. This
type of design has been used many times in countless designs and structures. It is
important to understand the behavior of this setup to avoid any type of failure that might
occur if this design is improperly used or executed.

1.2.Calculating stress using Statics

Analysis utilizing basic principles of Statics establishes a cantilever beam


experiences a vertical, horizontal, and moment reaction at the point being supported and a
point force at a length, L.

The stress is found using the elastic flexure formula where terms M, y, and I are
explained below.

M⋅y
σ =−
I

Equation 1

M is the moment at the point of loading. For a steady cantilever beam, it is


expessed as:

M = − P( L − x )

Equation 2

where P is the applied load, L is the length between the supporting and loading point, and
x is the distance between the clamp and the strain gage.

y is the distance measured from the neutral axis to the point under consideration.
For a simple cantilever setup, this is expressed as:

t
y=
2

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Equation 3

where t is the thickness of the beam.

Finally, I, is the centroidal moment of inertia for the beam. This is expressed as:

I=
1
12
b t3( )
Equation 4

where b is the length of the base and t is the thickness.

Combining Equations 1 through 4, the first relation utilizing measurable parameters


can be expressed.

[ − P( L − x ) ] t
σx = 2 = 6 ⋅ P ⋅ ( L − x)
1
12
( )
b t3 b ⋅t3

Equation 5

Equation 5 returns units of pounds per square inch (psi) when P is in pounds and
L, x, b, and t are in units of inches.

1.3.Load Estimate by Strain Relations and Hooke's Law

Stress is directly proportional to strain by a constant, E, known as the elastic


modulus. This is expressed mathematically as:

σ x = E ⋅ε x

Equation 6

Combining Equations 5 and 6, the strain can be expressed using Equation 7.

6 ⋅ P ⋅ ( L − x)
εx =
E ⋅b ⋅t2

Equation 7

An important behavior studied in the following experiment is the correlation


between strain, ε, and the distance along with length, L. The first derivative of Equation 7

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with respect to distance, x, can be expressed as in Equation 8. Simple algebraic
manipulation can be used to solve for the applied force, P, as in Equation 9.

∆ε x 6⋅ P
=−
∆x E ⋅b ⋅t2

Equation 8

E ⋅ b ⋅ t 2 ∆ε x
P=−
6 ∆x

Equation 9

This difference of two strain gages can then be used to find the force, P.

E ⋅ b ⋅ t 2 ( ε1 − ε 2 ) E ⋅ b ⋅ t 2 (ε 2 − ε 3 )
P1, 2 = − and P2,3 = −
6 ( x1 − x2 ) 6 ( x 2 − x3 )
Equation 10

1.4.Load Estimation by Deflection

The load can also be calculated in terms of deflection. This is derived from the
expression,

d 2 y M ( x)
=
dx 2 E⋅I

Equation 11

Equation 2 and 4 are utilized to express M and I respectively. E, the modulus of


elasticity, is known for 2024-T6 aluminum to be 10.4 × 106.

Integrating Equation 11 twice with the known conditions of dy/dx = 0 at x = 0, and


y=0 at x=0, y can be expressed as,

P
y= (x3 − 3 ⋅ L ⋅ x 2 )
6⋅ E ⋅ I

Equation 12

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The deflection in the following experiment is easily known. Therefore,
substituting δend for the difference in deflection and solving for P,

3 ⋅ δ end ⋅ E ⋅ I
P=
L3

Equation 13

2. Equipment and Procedure

2.1.Equipment and Setup

1. Cantilever flexure frame: A simple apparatus to hold a rectangular beam


at one end while allowing flexing of the specimen upon the addition of a
downward force.

2. Metal beam: In this experiment, 2024-T6 aluminum was tested. The beam
should be fairly rectangular, thin, and long. Specific dimensions are
dependant to the size of the cantilever flexure frame and available weights.

3. P-3500 strain indicator: Any equivalent device that accurately translates


to the output of strain gages into units of strain.

4. Three strain gages:

5. Micrometers and calipers:

The specimen should be secured in the flexure frame such that an applied force
can be placed opposite of the securing end of the fixture. Three strain gages should be
mounted such that the long metal traces run parallel to the length of the beam. The center
of the three gages should be mounted one inch, four inches, and seven inches from the
end of the clamp in the fixture.

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Figure 1

Whenever taking a reading from a strain gage, consult the strain gage
measurement device for optimal setup. The instructions below explain the setup used in
using the P-3500 strain indicator.

2.2.Test procedure for measuring the difference of two strain gages

The first setup creates a half-bridge setup to find the difference between two strain
gages.

Figure 2

As shown in the diagram, the direction of stress is opposite of the other to read
positive strain. This returns the difference of the two strains.

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With a known initial deflection, the strain indicator was balanced to read zero
strain. Without adjusting the balance, the difference in strain for gage 2 to 3 was
measured and recorded.

To generate a change in strain, a 300 με increase was added by applying a point


load on the bar. The deflection was recorded and the difference in strain for 1 to 2, as well
as 2 to 3, was measured and recorded.

2.3.Test procedure for measuring individual strain gages

To demonstrate how this differential method of calculating strain is equivalent to


the individual strain measurements, the net strain reading for each single strain gage was
measured and recorded using a quarter-bridge configuration.

Figure 3

D, the "dummy" resistance, is needed to balance the bridge. Any uncertainty


within the accuracy of this resistance greatly influences the accuracy of the strain
indicator and should have the same impedance as R3.

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3. Data, Analysis & Calculations

3.1.Known information

The gage factor for the strain gage used was 2.085 and the transverse sensitivity
was 1.0. Both these factors are dependant upon the strain gage used and are generally
given by the manufacturer.

Beam Dimensions (inches)


Base (b) 1.000
Thickness (t) 0.250
Length (L) 8.969
Distance from the clame to the center of Gage 1 (x1) 1.000
Distance from the clame to the center of Gage 2 (x2) 4.000
Distance from the clame to the center of Gage 3 (x3) 7.000

Table 1

3.2.Results

Differential Strain Measurements


ε1-ε2 (με) ε2-ε3 (με)
Initial Deflection 0 -649
Final Deflection 306 -349
Net Strain: 306 300

Table 2

Individual Strain Measurements


ε1 (με) ε2 (με) ε3 (με)
Initial Deflection 0 -359 -71
Final Deflection -903 -960 -364
Net Strain: 903 601 293

Table 3

The difference in deflection between the initial and final position was 0.291
inches.

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3.3.Load calculations

The first load estimate is calculated using Equation 10 and the differences in
strain gages, as recorded in table 1. An example calculation is shown below.

E ⋅ b ⋅ t 2 ( ε 1 − ε 2 ) − 10.4 ×10 6 ⋅1 ⋅ 0.25 2 ( 306)


P1, 2 = − = ⋅ = 10.906 lb
6 ( x1 − x2 ) 6 (1 − 4 )
Equation 14

The strain gradient is determined by finding the slope of the strain versus position
graph. For these results, see section 4.

A second load estimate was calculated using Equation 9 and the slope of the strain
versus position graph.

E ⋅ b ⋅ t 2 ∆ε x 10.4 ×10 6 ⋅1⋅ 0.25 2


P=− ⋅ =− ⋅ ( − 101.67 ) = 11.014 lb
6 ∆x 6

Equation 15

The third load estimate was calculated using Equation 13.

3 ⋅ δ end ⋅ E ⋅ I
P= = 16.387 lb
L3

Equation 16

The comparison of the three load estimates is listed in the results section.

3.4.Stress calculations

Three estimates for stress can be determined. The first stress estimate is found
using the calculated force from the differential strain gage measurement setup. This is
expressed using Equation 5. Equation 17 is a sample calculation for the determination of
the stress at gage 1.

6 ⋅ P ⋅ ( L − x ) 6 ⋅11.014 ⋅ ( 8.969 − 1)
σx = = = 8425 psi
b ⋅t 2 1 ⋅ 0.25 2

Equation 17

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A second stress estimate can be determined using the calculated point load found
in Equation 16.

6 ⋅ P ⋅ ( L − x ) 6 ⋅16.387 ⋅ ( 8.969 − 1)
σx = = = 12535 psi
b ⋅t 2 1 ⋅ 0.25 2

Equation 18

The third stress estimate uses Hooke's Law to correlate strain to stress. Using
Equation 6, the stress can be found as follows:

σ x = E ⋅ ε x = 10.4 × 10 6 ⋅ 903 × 10 −6 = 9391.2 psi

Equation 19

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4. Results

4.1.Graphical Results

Strain vs Position
1000

900

800
y = -101.67x + 1005.7
700

600
Strain (με)

500

400

300

200

100

0
0.000 1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000 6.000 7.000 8.000
Position

4.2.Comparison of Results

Figure 4

The table below lists the three load estimates using all three methods.

Differential Strain Method Calculation by Slope End Deflection Method


(με) (με) (με)
11.014 11.014 16.387

Table 4

Table 5 contains the first and second stress estimate using both calculated load points.

σ x (psi) σ x (psi)
Station (L - x) (P = 11.014) (P = 16.387)
1 7.96875 8426 12536
2 4.96875 5254 7816
3 1.96875 2082 3097

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Table 5

Table 6 catalogs the results from using Hooke's Law.

Station x (in) σ (psi)


1 1 9391.2
2 4 6250.4
3 7 3047.2

Table 6

Table 7 summarizes and compares the different stress values generated throughout
the experiment.

Stress Summary and Comparison


σ1 (psi) σ2 (psi) σ3 (psi)
P = 11.014 8426 5254 2082
P = 16.387 12536 7816 3097
Hooke's Law 9391 6250 3047

Table 7

Table 8 shows the error between measured and calculated strain.

ε1 ε2 ε3
Calculated 1205 752 298
Measured 903 601 293
Error 25.08% 20.04% 1.61%

Table 8

5. Conclusions
Due to the large margin of error from the measured and calculated results, the
experimental results are not acceptable for practical application. Any design utilizing a
cantilever setup that experiences stresses close to the yield point of the material need to
be more rigorously tested. At maximum deflection, strain gage 1 exhibited a 25% error
from the calculated value. One cause for this error occurs because the equations used are
accurate in small deflections and loads easily handled by the material tested. Also,
Hooke's law is only valid for a portion of the elastic range for some materials, including
aluminum (Wikipedia). Although the net deflection in this experiment was small, the

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stress put upon the material in testing was theoretically 12,536 psi, nearly 84% of the
yield stress. Strain gage three experienced approximately 2% error, whereas the stress
that that point was theoretically 3,097 psi, or 21% of the yield stress. Therefore,
whenever a cantilever setup is used in high stress or deflection applications, thorough
testing and a suitable safety factor must be considered.

6. References
Gilbert, J. A and C. L. Carmen. "Chapter 8 – Cantilever Flexure Test." MAE/CE 370 –
Mechanics of Materials Laboratory Manual. June 2000.

Kuphaldt, Tony R. (2003). "Chapter 9 – Electrical Instrumentation Signals."


AllAboutCircuits.com. Retrieved September 19, 2006, from Internet:
http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_1/chpt_9/7.html

"Hooke's Law." Wikipedia. Retrieved September 22, 2006, from Internet:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooke%27s_law

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7. Raw Notes

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