Circular Plates
&
Diaphragms
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
The object of this chapter is the study of thin plates subjected to
small elastic deformations. Thin is a relative term which
indicates that the thickness of the plate is small compared to
the overall geometry.
A ratio of 1: X, where 10 X is the usual criterion.
The deformations are caused by pure bending conditions.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3
Introduction
Plates are initially flat structural elements (before loading)
having relatively small thicknesses compared with the
remaining dimensions. It is customary in the analysis of plates
to divide the thickness t into equal halves by a plane parallel to
the faces.
The dividing plane is called the midsurface of the plate. The
plate thickness is measured in a direction normal to the
midsurface at each point under consideration.
CLASSIFICATION OF PLATES
Plates may be classified according to:
a) the magnitude of the thickness compared to the
magnitude of the other dimensions
b) the magnitude of the lateral deflection compared to the
thickness
We may thus speak of
1) relatively thick plates with small deflections
2) relatively thin plates with small deflections
3) very thin plates with large deflections
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page 
4) extremely thin plates (membranes) that may undergo
either large or small deflections, and so on
PLATES IN ENGINEERING
The purpose of plates in engineering is to cover, generally, a
rectangular or circular area and to support concentrated or
distributed loading normal to the plane of the plate.
A typical example is a pressure diaphragm, as a safety or
control device, supported around its circular periphery, and
subjected to uniform pressure on one face and perhaps a
central point load on the opposite face.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  !
SMALL DEFLECTION OF THIN PLATES
Assumptions
i. No deformation in the middle plane of the plate
(i.e. existence of a neutral surface).
ii. Points in the plate lying initially on a normal to the neutral
surface of the plate remain on the normal during bending.
iii. Normal stresses in the direction transverse to the plate
can be disregarded.
iv. The deflection, w, is a function of the two coordinates in
the plane of the plate, the elastic constants of the material,
and the loading conditions.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  "
MOMENTS AND CURVATURES FOR PURE BENDING
General Case in Cartesian Coordinates
We need to relate the bending moments to the curvatures. The
slope and deflection of a plate can then be determined from the
resulting equations.
Bending Moments
Let us consider an element of material (cf. drawing below) cut
from a plate subjected to pure bending (cf. drawing).
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  #
The bending moments
x
M and
y
M per unit length are positive
as drawn acting on the neutral surface of the plate. The
material above the neutral surface is in a state of compression
while material below it is in a state of tension (biaxial).
Curvatures
Beam bending analogy:
Consider a cantilever beam subjected to a load P acting at the
free end.
Curvature is a measure of how sharply a beam is bent.
The deflections of a beam are usually very small compared to
its length. Small deflections mean that the deflection curve is
nearly flat. .
Under these special conditions of small deflections, the
equation for the curvature becomes
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  $
Sign Convention
The sign convention for curvature depends upon the orientation
of the coordinate axes.
Application to plates
Curvatures of the midplane in sections parallel to the xz and
yz planes are denoted by
1
x
R
and
1
y
R
respectively.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  %
STRESSSTRAIN RELATIONSHIPS
Strains
At a depth z below the middle plane, the strains in the x and y
directions of a lamina such as abcd are
=
x
x
z
R
[1]
=
y
y
z
R
[2]
Stress  Strain relationships
.
y
x
x
E E
= [3]
.
y
x
y
E E
=
[4]
Combining [1] and [2] with equations [3] and [4] and
rearranging,
2
1
1
(
(
(
(
= +
x
x y
Ez
R R
[5]
2
1
1
(
(
(
(
= +
y
y x
Ez
R R
[6]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  10
Equations [5] and [6] show that the bending stresses are
functions of the plate curvatures and are proportional to the
distance from the neutral surface.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  11
BENDING MOMENTS / CURVATURES RELATIONSHIPS
Taking the equilibrium of moments for the infinitesimal plate
element,
2
2
. .
h
x x
h
z dydz M dy
[7]
2
2
. .
h
y y
h
z dxdz M dx
[8]
Substituting from equations [5] and [6] for
x
and
y
in
equations [7] and [8], and integrating, we obtain
( )
3
2
1 1
12 1
( (
( (
( (
( (
= + = +
x
x y x y
Eh
M D
R R R R
[9]
( )
3
2
1 1
12 1
( (
( (
( (
( (
= + = +
y
y x y x
Eh
M D
R R R R
[10]
( )
3
2
12 1
Eh
D
x
w
R
x
[11]
2
2
1
=
y
w
R
y
[12]
where w is the deflection in the z
direction.
It follows that the relationships between the bending moments
and the curvatures become,
2 2
2 2
x
w w
M D
x y
(
(
(
(
= +
[13]
2 2
2 2
(
(
(
(
= +
y
w w
M D
y x
[14]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  13
BENDING MOMENTS / BENDING STRESSES RELATIONSHIPS
The bending stresses can be expressed as functions of the
bending moments by eliminating the curvatures between
equations [5], [6], [9] and [10].
3
12
=
x x
z
M
h
[15]
3
12
=
y y
z
M
h
[16]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1
SYMMETRICAL BENDING OF CIRCULAR PLATES
Polar Coordinates
The deflection w
of a plate of circular shape depends on its
radial position alone if the applied load and conditions of end
support are independent of the angle .
Consider a circular plate, subjected to the symmetrical loading
condition (cf. figure below). Any diametral section may be used
to indicate the deflection curve, the associated slope and
deflection w at any radius r .
The curvature of the plate in the diametral plane rz is
2
2
1
=
r
d w
R
dr
[17]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1!
and for small values of w (+ve downwards) the slope at any
point is given by
=
dw
dr
[18]
The second principal radius of curvature R
is in a plane
perpendicular to rz and is represented by lines such as PQ.
1
r
R
=
[19]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1"
Let us now consider an element of the circular plate subjected
to bending moments along the edges. Let
r
M and M
be the
bending moment per unit length acting on the plate element
(cf. drawing below). The circular plate element can be analysed
in the same way as in the case of the plate in Cartesian
coordinates.
Thus, the equations giving the bending moments in terms of the
slope are as follows:
( )
3
2
12 1
(
(
(
(
= +
r
d
Eh
M
r
dr
[20]
( )
3
2
12 1
(
(
+
(
(
=
d
Eh
M
r
dr
[21]
These equations can also be written in terms of curvatures or
deflections.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1#
2
2
r
d w dw
M D
r
dr
dr
(
(
(
(
= +
[22]
2
2
1dw d w
M D
r
dr
dr
(
(
+
(
(
=
[23]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1$
LOAD, SHEAR FORCE AND BENDING MOMENT
Consider an infinitesimal element taken from a circular plate.
The plate element must be in equilibrium under the action of
the uniformly distributed loading p per unit area, the resulting
shear forces Q per unit length and the bending moments per
unit length.
For vertical equilibrium,
. . . 0
dQ
Q r d p r d dr Q dr r dr d
dr
 
 



\

\
+ + + =
[24]
dQ Q
p
r
dr
+ = [25]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  1%
For equilibrium of moments in the radial plane, taking moments
about the outer edge of the plate element, we obtain
...
2 .sin . . 0
2
r
r r
dM
M dr r dr d M rd
dr
d
M dr Q r d dr
 
 



\

\
+ +
+ =
[26]
Equation [26] may be simplified to give
0
r
r
dM
r M M Qr
dr
+ + = [27]
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  20
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN DEFLECTION, SLOPE AND
LOADING
Substituting equations [20] and [21] in equation [27], and after
simplifying, we obtain
2
2 2
1
Q d d
r
D dr
dr r
+ = [28]
Substituting equations [22] and [23] in equation [27], we obtain
the variation of the deflection with the radius;
3 2
3 2 2
1 1
Q
d w d w dw
r
D dr
dr dr r
+ =
[29]
Equations [28] and [29] can be expressed as follows:
( )
1
.
Q
d d
r
r
D dr dr
(
(
(
=
[30]
1
Q
d d dw
r
r
D dr dr dr
(  
( 
( 
(
\
=
[31]
A solution for and w is readily obtainable from equations
[30] and [31] by integration.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  21
The shear force Q is a function of the applied loading p and
may be obtained by integration of equation [25].
. . . r dQ Qdr pr dr + = or
( )
. . d Qr pr dr =
Therefore,
0
r
Qr pr dr
=
Substituting in equation [31],
0
1 1
r
d d dw
r r pr dr
r
D dr dr dr
(  
( 
( 
(
\
=
[32]
If we know
( )
p f r = or if p happens to be constant, then
equation [32] can be integrated to find the deflection of the
circular plate at any radius.
(integration constants are evaluated from boundary conditions)
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  22
CIRCULAR PLATE SUBJECTED TO UNIFORM PRESSURE
Starting with equation [32], obtained in the previous section,
and through successive integrations, we obtain the equation
giving the deflection of the plate.
0
1 1
r
d d dw
r r pr dr
r
D dr dr dr
(  
( 
( 
(
\
=
We assume in this configuration that the pressure p is
constant. Therefore,
2
0
1 1
2
r
p
d d dw
r r pr dr r
r
D D dr dr dr
(  
( 
( 
(
\
= =
Eliminating r from both sides and integrating:
2
1
1
2
1
4
p
d d dw
r r
r
D dr dr dr
p
d dw
r r C
r
D dr dr
(
 
( 
( 
(
\
 


\
=
= +
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  23
Multiplying both sides by r and integrating again:
3
1
4 2 1
2
4
16 2
p
d dw
r r C r
D dr dr
C
p
dw
r r r C
D dr
 


\
= +
= + +
Dividing both sides by r and integrating:
3 1 2
16 2
C C
p
dw
r r
r
D dr
= + +
4 2 1
2 3
ln
64 4
C
p
w r r C r C
D
= + + +
[33]
For a circular plate subjected to a uniform pressure p,
equation [33] gives the deflection of the plate in terms of the
radial position r . Integration constants
1
C ,
2
C and
3
C are
evaluated based on the boundary conditions and slope of the
plate at preset positions.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2
Problem 4.1 Uniformly loaded plate (Clamped edges)
Consider a circular plate of radius a (cf. drawing below).
Find
a) the equation of the deflection curve
b) the maximum deflection of the plate
c) the equations of bending moments
d) the maximum stresses in the plate
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2!
Equation of deflection curve
& Since the periphery of the plate is clamped, the slope of
the plate is 0 at r a = 0
dw
dr
 


\
=
& Due to the obvious symmetry of the problem, the slope of
the plate is also 0 at 0 r = 0
dw
dr
 


\
=
& The deflection of the plate is 0 at the clamped boundary.
4 2 1
2 3
ln
64 4
C
p
w r r C r C
D
= + + +
3 1 2
16 2
C C
p
dw
r r
r
D dr
= + +
Since the slope cannot be infinite at 0 r = ,
2
0 C =
3 1
16 2
C
p
dw
r r
D dr
= +
3
1
0
16 2
C a
pa
D
= +
2
1
8
pa
C
D
=
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2"
4 4
3
0
64 32
pa pa
C
D D
= +
4
3
64
pa
C
D
=
Therefore the deflection curve is given by
2
2 2
64
p
w a r
D
 

\
=
Maximum deflection
The maximum deflection occurs at the centre of the plate.
Therefore,
( ) 0
4
max
64
r
pa
w w
D
= = =
Equations of bending moments
The bending moment equations are determined from the
moment/curvature relationships (equations [22] & [23]):
2
2
r
d w dw
M D
r
dr
dr
(
(
(
(
= +
2
2
1dw d w
M D
r
dr
dr
(
(
(
(
= +
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2#
2
3
16 16
p pa
dw
r r
D D dr
=
2
2
2
2
3
16 16
p pa
d w
r
D D
dr
=
2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2
3
16 16 16 16
3
16
1 3
16
r
p pa p pa
M D r r
D D D D
p
r a r a
p
a r
(
 
(

(

(
\
(
 
(

(
\
(
   
(
 
\ \
(
= +
= +
= + +
( )
2 2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2
3
16 16 16 16
3
16
1 1 3
16
p pa p pa
M D r r
D D D D
p
r a r a
p
a r
(
 
(

(

(
\
(
(
(
   
(
 
\ \
(
= +
= +
= + +
Maximum stresses in the plate
At the periphery, r a =
2
8
r
pa
M =
2
8
pa
M
=
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2$
At the centre 0 r = , and
2
1
16
r
pa
M M
 

\
= = +
Similar to the case of Cartesian coordinates, where
3
12.
x
x
M z
h
= and
3
12.
y
y
M z
h
=
the bending stresses for the circular plate are as follows:
3
12.
r
r
M z
h
=
[34]
3
12.M z
h
= [35]
On inspecting equations [34] and [35], we observe that the
radial and the circumferential stresses will have maximum
values when the bending moments are maximum and for
maximum value of z (all values here refer to absolute values).
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  2%
The table below summarises these information.
0 r = r a =
r
M
2
1
16
pa
 

\
+
2
8
pa
M
2
1
16
pa
 

\
+
2
8
pa
max
2
h
z =
Radial stress is maximum at the periphery while the
circumferential stress is maximum at the centre.
Therefore,
( )
( ) max
max
2
2 2
3. 6.
4
r
r
pa M
h h
= =
( )
( ) max
max
2
2 2
6.
3
1
8
M
pa
h h
 

\
= = +
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  30
Problem 4.2 Plate simply supported at periphery
A circular plate subjected to a uniform load pressure is simply
supported at its edge (cf. drawing below).
Find
a) the equation of the deflection curve
b) the maximum deflection of the plate
c) the equations of bending moments in the plate
d) the maximum stresses in the plate
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  31
Equation of deflection curve
Since the periphery of the plate is simply supported, 0
r
M = at
r a = .
Due to the symmetry of the problem, the slope of the plate is 0
at 0 r = 0
dw
dr
 


\
=
The deflection of the plate is 0 at the simply supported
periphery.
4 2 1
2 3
ln
64 4
C
p
w r r C r C
D
= + + +
3 1 2
16 2
C C
p
dw
r r
r
D dr
= + +
Since the slope cannot be infinite at 0 r = ,
2
0 C =
3 1
16 2
C
p
dw
r r
D dr
= +
2
2 1
2
3
16 2
C
p
d w
r
D
dr
= +
2
2
r
d w dw
M D
r
dr
dr
(
(
(
(
= +
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  32
2 2 1 1
3
16 2 16 2
r
C C
p p
M D r r
D D
(
 
(

(


(
\
= + + +
2 2
1 1
3
0
16 2 16 2
C C
pa pa
D D
 



\
= + + +
2
1
3
8
1
pa
C
D
(
(
(
(
+
=
+
4 2
2
3
3
0
64 8 4
1
pa pa
a
C
D D
(
(
(
(
+
= +
+
4
3
5
64
1
pa
C
D
(
(
(
(
+
=
+
Therefore the deflection curve is given by
2 4
4 2
3 5
64 32 64
1 1
p pa pa
w r r
D D D
( (
( (
( (
( (
+ +
= +
+ +
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  33
Maximum deflection
The maximum deflection occurs at the centre of the plate.
Therefore,
( ) 0
4
max
5
64
1
r
pa
w w
D
(
(
=
(
(
+
= =
+
Equations of bending moments
2 2
2 2
2 2
3 3
3
16 16 16 16
1 1
3
16
r
p pa p pa
M D r r
D D D D
p
a r
(
  ( (
(

( (
(

(
( ( 
(

( (
\
(
 

(
\
(
+ +
= +
+ +
+
=
2 2
2 2
2 2
3 3
3
16 16 16 16
1 1
3 1 3
16
p pa p pa
M D r r
D D D D
p
a r
(
  ( (
(

( (
(

(
( ( 
(

( (
\
(
(
   
(
 
\ \
(
+ +
= +
+ +
= + +
Maximum bending moments occur for 0 r = .
2
3
16
r
pa
M M
 

\
+
= =
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3
Maximum stresses in the plate
3
12.
r
r
M z
h
=
3
12.M z
h
=
Maximum stresses are obtained at the centre of the plate;
Therefore,
( )
( ) max
max
2
2 2
3 3
6.
8
r
r
pa
M
h h
 

\
+
= =
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3!
Problem 4.3 Cylinder Head Valve
A cylinder head valve of diameter 38mm is subjected to a gas
pressure of 1.4MPa. It may be regarded as a uniform thin
circular plate simply supported around the periphery by the
seat, as shown below. Assuming that the valve stem applies a
concentrated force at the centre of the plate, calculate the
movement of the stem necessary to lift the valve from its seat.
The flexural rigidity of the valve is 260N.m, and Poissons ratio
for the material is 0.3.
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3"
Solution: Problem 4.3:
The above problem can be solved as the superposition of two
simpler problems.
1. a circular flat plate subjected to a uniform pressure and
having its edges freely supported, and
2. a circular flat plate with a concentrated load at its centre
and with its edges simply supported too.
However, care must be taken regarding the orientation of the
uniform pressure and the concentrated load, and subsequently,
the sign of the deflection.
We found at a previous section that the deflection curve for a
circular flat plate subjected to a uniform pressure and with
freely supported edges is given by:
2 4
4 2
3 5
64 32 64
1 1
p pa pa
w r r
D D D
( (
( (
( (
( (
+ +
= +
+ +
We now need to find the deflection curve for sub problem #2.
Plate with Concentrated Load and Freely Supported Edges
Starting with equation [31], i.e.
1
Q
d d dw
r
r
D dr dr dr
(  
( 
( 
(
\
=
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3#
we first need to find the expression for Q (shear stress per unit
length).
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3$
Problem 4.4 Thin Steel Diaphragm
A circular thin steel diaphragm having an effective diameter of
200mm is clamped around its periphery and is subjected to a
uniform gas pressure of 180kPa. Calculate a minimum
thickness for the diaphragm if the deflection at the centre is not
to exceed 0.5mm. ( 208 E GPa = ' 0.287 = )
ANS: 3.1mm
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  3%
Problem 4.4 Circular Plate
A circular plate 500mm diameter and 2.5mm thick is clamped
around its edge and is subjected to a concentrated load of
900N at its centre.
Calculate the radial and tangential bending stresses at the
fixed edge. ( 208 E GPa = ' 0.29 = )
ANS: 68.75
19.94
K.A.  MECH3001Y  Mechanics of Materials & Machines III Page  0
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