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CHAPTER

1.1 INTRODUCTION

The science which deals with the state of rest or the state of motion of the bodies under the action of

forces is called mechanics. The application of this science to actual problems is termed as Engineering

Mechanics or Applied Mechanics. In this chapter, laws of mechanics are presented then the terms force

and moment of force are explained. Transfer of a force to its parallel position is an important concept

in the analysis of several engineering problems. Hence this concept is discussed. After grouping the

system of forces into various suitable categories, the analysis of system of forces in a plane is taken up.

The analysis involves finding the resultant and considering the equilibrium of various bodies encountered

in engineering problems. The procedure is illustrated by taking a number of practical problems.

1.2 LAWS OF MECHANICS

Newtons first law

Newtons second law

Newtons third law

Newtons law of gravitation

Law of transmissibility

Parallelogram law of forces.

1.2.1

It states that everybody continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line unless it is

compelled by an external agency acting on it. This leads to the definition of force as the external agency

which changes or tends to change the condition of rest or uniform linear motion of the body.

1.2.2

It states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the impressed force

and it takes place in the direction of the force acting on it. Thus according to this law

Force rate of change of momentum. But momentum = mass velocity

As mass do not change,

Force mass rate of change of velocity

i.e., Force mass acceleration

...(1.1)

Fma

2

It states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consider the two bodies in contact

with each other. Let one body apply a force F on another. According to this law, the second body

develops a reactive force R which is equal in magnitude to force F and acts in the line same as F but in

the opposite direction. Figure 1.1 shows the action of the ball and the reaction from the floor. In

Fig. 1.2 the action of the ladder on the wall and the floor and the reactions from the wall and floor are

shown.

Rreaction

Faction R = F

(a)

(b)

Fig. 1.1

F1

R1

R1 = F1

R2

F2

R2 = F2

Fig. 1.2

Every body attracts the other body. The force of attraction between any two bodies is directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. According

to this law the force of attraction between the bodies of mass m1 and mass m2 at distance d as shown

as Fig. 1.3 is

m1 m2

...(1.2)

F = G

d2

where G is the constant of proportionality and is known as constant of gravitation.

m1

d

Fi

g. 1

Fig

1..3

2

m2

CHAPTER 1

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

1.2.5

According to this law the state of rest or motion of the rigid body is unaltered if a force acting on

the body is replaced by another force of the same magnitude and direction but acting anywhere on

the body along the line of action of the replaced force.

Let F be the force acting on a rigid body at point A as shown in Fig. 1.4. According to the law

of transmissibility of force, this force has the same effect on the state of body as the force F applied

at point B.

In using law of transmissibility of forces it should be

F

carefully noted that it is applicable only if the body can be

A

treated as rigid. In this text, the engineering mechanics is

restricted to study of state of rigid bodies and hence this

B

F

law is frequently used. Same thing cannot be done in the

subject solid mechanics where the bodies are treated as

deformable and internal forces in the body are studied.

1.2.6

Fig. 1.4

The parallelogram law of forces enables us to determine the single force called resultant which can

replace the two forces acting at a point with the same effect as that of the two forces. This law was

formulated based on experimental results. Though Stevinces employed it in 1586, the credit of

presenting it as a law goes to Varignon and Newton (1687). This law states that if two forces acting

simultaneously on a body at a point are represented in magnitude and direction by the two adjacent

sides of a parallelogram, their resultant is represented in magnitude and direction by the diagonal

of the parallelogram which passes through the point of intersection of the two sides representing the

forces.

In Fig. 1.5 the force F1 = 4 units and force F2 = 3 units are acting on a body at point A. Then

to get resultant of these forces, parallelogram ABCD is constructed such that AB is equal to 4 units

to linear scale and AC equal to 3 units. Then according to the law, the diagonal AD represents the

resultant in the direction and magnitude. Thus the resultant of the forces F1 and F2 on the body is

equal to units corresponding to AB in the direction to F1.

C

F2 = 3 units

D

R

q

3

F1 = 4 units

q

a

A

(a)

R ond to

sp

orre

ts c

i

n

U

(c)

Fig. 1.5

AD

4

(b)

From Newtons first law we arrived at the definition of a force as the external agency which changes

or tends to change the condition of rest or uniform linear motion of the body and from Newtons

second law we get the equation,

Force Mass Acceleration

Force = k Mass Acceleration

...(1.3)

In System International (SI) unit of force is defined as that force which causes 1 kg mass to move

with an acceleration of 1m/sec2 and is termed as 1 Newton. Hence the constant of proportionality

k in Eqn. 1.3 becomes unity. Now, unit of force can be derived from Eqn. 1.3 as

Unit of force = kg m/sec2

= kg m/sec2

In MKS system, the unit of force is defined as that force which makes a mass of 1 kg to move

with gravitational acceleration g m/sec2 at earth surface. This unit of force is called kilogramme

-weight or kg-wt. Gravitational acceleration is 9.81 m/sec2 near the earth surface. Hence

1 kg-wt = 9.81 newtons

...(1.4)

It may be noted that in public usage, kg-wt is called as kg only.

The following prefixes are used in SI system when quantities are too big or too small.

Multiplying Factor

Prefix

Symbol

12

tera

10

giga

10

mega

kilo

10

10 3

10

10

milli

10 6

micro

nano

10

10

12

10 15

10

18

pico

femto

atto

A force is completely defined only when the following four characteristics are specified:

Magnitude,

Point of application,

Line of action, and

Direction.

In Fig. 1.6, AB is a ladder kept against a wall. At point C, a person weighing 600 N is standing.

The force applied by the person on the ladder has the following characteristics:

Magnitude is 600 N,

CHAPTER 1

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

The point of application is at C which is 2 m from the floor along the ladder,

The line of action is vertical, and

The direction is downward.

600 N

B

C

Fig. 1.6

Note that the magnitude of the force is written near the arrow. The line of the arrow shows the

line of application, and the arrow head represents the point of application and the direction of the

force.

1.5

A quantity is said to be scalar if it is completely defined by its magnitude alone. Examples are

length, area and time.

A quantity is said to be vector if it is completely defined only when its magnitude and direction

are specified. Hence, force is a vector. The other examples of vectors are velocity and acceleration.

1.6

SYSTEM OF FORCES

When several forces of different magnitude and direction act upon a body, they constitute a system

of forces. If all the forces in a system lie in a single plane, it is called a coplanar force system. If

the line of action of all the forces in a system pass through a single point it is called a concurrent

force system. In a system of parallel forces all the forces are parallel to each other. If the line of

action of all forces lie along a single line then it is called a collinear force system. Various system

of forces, their characteristics and examples are given in Table 1.1 below.

Table 1.1 System of Forces

Force System

Characteristic

Examples

Collinear forces

along the same line.

war.

Coplanar

parallel forces

and lie in a single plane.

beam subjected to vertical

loads (including reactions).

Coplanar

like parallel forces

lie in a single plane and are acting in

the same direction.

on a rail when the track is

straight.

Contd.

Coplanar

concurrent forces

through a single point and forces

lie in the same plane.

a wall.

Coplanar

nonconcurrent forces

but lie in a single plane.

against a wall when a person

stands on a rung which is not

at its centre of gravity.

Non-coplanar

parallel forces

other, but not in the same plane.

class room.

Non-coplanar

concurrent forces

plane, but their lines of action pass

through a single point.

Non-coplanar

non-concurrent forces

plane and their lines of action do

Moment of a force about a point is the measure of its rotational effect. Moment is defined as the

product of the magnitude of the force and the perpendicular distance of the point from the line of

action of the force. The point about which the moment is considered is called moment centre and

the perpendicular distance of the point from the line of action of the force is called moment arm.

Referring to Fig. 1.7, if d1 is the perpendicular distance of point 1 from the line of action of force

F, the moment of F about point 1 is given by

...(1.5)

M 1 = F d1

Similarly, moment about point 2 is given by

...(1.6)

M 2 = F d2

If the moment centre 3 lies on the line of action of the force F, the moment arm is zero and

hence,

...(1.7)

M3 = F 0 = 0

Thus, it may be noted that if a point lie on the line of action of a force, the moment of the force

about that point is zero.

F

The moment of a force has got direction also. In Fig. 1.7

d

1

2x d

it may be noted that M1 is clockwise and M2 is anticlockwise.

2

x1

To find the direction of the moment, imagine that the line of

x 3

action of the force is connected to the point by a rigid rod

pinned at the point and is free to move around the point. The

direction of the rotation indicates the direction of the moFig. 1.7

ment.

If the force is taken in Newton unit and the distance in millimetre, the unit of moment will be

N-mm. Commonly used units of moment in engineering are kN-m, N-m, kN-mm and N-mm.

1.8 VARIGNONS THEOREM

French mathematician Varignon (16541722) gave the following theorem which is also known as

principle of moments:

CHAPTER 1

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

The algebraic sum of the moments of a system of coplanar forces about a moment centre in their

plane is equal to the moment of their resultant force about the same moment centre.

Proof: Referring to Fig. 1.8 let R be the resultant of forces P1 and P2 and B the moment centre.

Let d, d1 and d2 be the moment arms of the forces, R, P1 and P2, respectively from the moment centre

B. Then in this case, we have to prove that:

Rd = P1 d1 + P2 d2

Join AB and consider it as y axis and draw x axis at right angles to it at A [Fig. 1.8(b)]. Denoting

by the angle that R makes with x axis and noting that the same angle is formed by perpendicular

to R at B with AB1, we can write:

Rd = R AB cos

= AB (R cos)

= AB Rx

...(a)

where Rx denotes the component of R in x direction.

d2

y

R

d1

P2

P2

q

A

A

(a)

P1

(b)

B1

P1

x

Fig. 1.8

Similarly, if P1x and P2x are the components of P1 and P2, in x direction, respectively, then

...(b)

P1 d1 = AB P1x

...(c)

and

P2 d2 = AB P2x

From Eqns. (b) and (c)

P1 d1 + P2 d2 = AB (P1x + P2x)

...(d)

= AB Rx

since, the sum of x components of individual forces is equal to the x component of the resultant

R. From Eqn. (a) and (d), we can conclude:

Rd = P1 d1 + P2 d2

If a system of forces consists of more than two forces, the above result can be extended as given

below:

Let P1, P2, P3 and P4 be four concurrent forces and R be their resultant. Let d1, d2, d3, d4 and

a be the distances of line of action of forces P1, P2, P3, P4 and R, respectively from the moment

centre O, [Ref. Fig. 1.9].

If R1 is the resultant of P1 and P2 and its distance from O is a1, then applying Varignons

theorem:

R 1 a1 = P 1 d1 + P 2 d2

If R2 is the resultant of R1 and P3 (and hence of P1, P2 and P3) and its distance from O is a2,

then applying Varignons theorem:

R2a2 = R1a1 + P3d3

= P1 d1 + P2 d2 + P3 d3

d

d2

P3

P2

d1

R

P1

P4

Fig. 1. 9

Ra = R2 a2 + P4 d4

Since R is the resultant of R2 and P4 (i.e., P1, P2, P3 and P4).

Ra = P1d1 + P2d2 + P3d3 + P4d4

...(1.8)

Thus, the moment of the resultant of a number of forces about a moment centre is equal to the

sum of the moments of its component forces about the same moment centre.

Example 1. Find the moment of 100 N force acting at B about point A as shown in Fig. 1.10.

Solution: 100 N force may be resolved into its horizontal components as 100 cos 60 and vertical

component 100 sin 60. From Varignons theorem, moment of 100 N force about the point A is equal

to sum of the moments of its components about A.

Fig. 1.10

MA = 100 cos 60 500 100 sin 60 400

= 25, 000 34, 641.02 = 9641.02 N-mm

= 9641.016 N-mm Anticlockwise.

Ans.

Example 2. What will be the y intercept of the 5000 N force if its moment about A is

8000 N-m in Fig. 1.11?

CHAPTER 1

10

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

y

5000 N

C

Py

Px

y

A

Fig. 1.11

Solution: 5000 N force is shifted to a point B along its line of action (law of transmissibility) and

it is resolved into its x and y components (Px and Py as shown in Fig. 1.11).

Px = 5000 cos = 5000

4

= 4000 N

5

3

= 3000 N.

5

By Varignons theorem, moment of 5000 N force about A is equal to moment of its component

forces about the same point.

8000 = 4000 y + 3000 0

y = 2 m.

Ans.

and

1.9 COUPLE

Two parallel forces equal in magnitude and opposite in direction and separated by a definite

distance are said to form a couple. The sum of the forces forming a couple is zero, since they are

equal and opposite which means the translatory effect of the couple is zero.

An interesting property can be observed if we consider rotational effect of a couple about any

point. Let the magnitude of the forces forming the couple be P and the perpendicular distance

between the two forces be d. Consider the moment of the two forces constituting a couple about point

1 as shown in Fig. 1.12 (a). Let the moment be M1 then,

M1 = Pd1 + Pd2

= P (d1 + d2) = Pd

Now, consider the moment of the forces about point 2 which is outside the two forces as shown

in Fig. 1.12 (b). Let M2 be the moment.

Then,

M2 = Pd3 Pd4

= P (d3 d4) = Pd

Similarly it can be seen that

M3 = Pd

Thus at any point

M = Pd

...(1.9)

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