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Don't Design With Your Heart

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You are on page 1of 4

A

something must be true

without

analyzing

the

underlying prineiples involved.

Deep down in their hearts, they

intuitively "know" something to be

true and. when this is the case, they

are unlikely to question the

assumption. After all, it is "obvious"

and '"true." That is what I call

"designing with your heart."

As a way of thinking about this

kind of situation, let's consider

a hypothetical example: the

cantilevered tubular assembly

shown in Figure I. To keep things

Figure 1

simple, we will state that the only

forces involved were those that

result from the weight of the tube.

The initial assembly was made of a low strength,

mild steel. When completed, the assembly deflected

excessively. A seemingly obvious solution might be

to make an identical replacement, but fabricate it

from a high strength, low alloy steel. However, if

we were to do this, we would fmd that the deflection

is identical. Why? Because the material property

that governs deflection is the modulus of elasticity

(E), and it is the same for alt steels, regardless of

strength.

A =

wL/

8EI

where

w ^ the weight per length ofthe tubtilar steeJ

L = length of the tube

E = modulus of elasticity of steel

(i.e., 30x10''psi)

I = moment of inertia.

Since the weight of the tube is causing the

deflection, we might decide to try again, this time which the wall thickness is small can be found from

making the assembly out of the higher strength the following:

steel, but with a thinner wail thickness. We are

I - t7ir3

assuming that the decrease in thickness will reduce

the weight and accordingly reduce the deflection.

where

Alas, we will find that the results, again, are

essentially the same. Why? Because the resistance

t = the thickness ofthe tube wall

to deflection is governed by the properties of the

r = the radius ofthe tube.

cross section, the moment of inertia (I), which for

Finally, to get the weight per length of the tube,

the circular tube decreases simultaneously and

proportionally to the reduction in the wall thickness. the following relationship can be used:

Some simple engineering equations and

w = 2Tcrt5

mathematics could have helped us to cut through all

the emotion with cold, hard facts. We eould have

where

predicted the deflection of the tubular assembly

hefore anything was built by applying the following

5 = density of steel.

equation:

EE2

www.weldingmag.com

April 2007

Figure 2

Figure 3

following:

A This simple calculation shows why all three

approaches would have had the same deflection (A).

With the density (5), length (L) and modulus (E) all

fixed, the only variable remaining is the tube radius

(r). Thus., the only way to limit the deflection is to

increase the diameter of the tube (i.e., increase the

radius "r"). Fortunately, since this term is squared, a

small increase in the radius will significantly reduce

the deflection.

Our hearts may tell us otherwise, but the cold hard

mathematical facts reveal the truth a truth that

eould and should be known before anything is

fabricated.

Now, for a real-life case example. Many years ago

when I was selling for Lincoln Electric, I called on a

company that made machines that were used to pack

salmon into cans. The machine operated at a high

speed and incorporated a pivoting lever that was

made of cast steel (see Figure 2). When the machine

was operating, the lever was subject to high forces

of inertia that caused the machine to hind. Slowing

the operating speed of the machine elitninated the

April 2007

the day I arrived, the designer was

modifying the pattern for the cast

steel part to permit the lever to be

made of lighter weight aluminum

instead.

When I asked the engineer to

explain the intent hehind the change

in material, he explained that the

machine was binding because the

lever was deflecting excessively due

to the forces of inertia. Those forces

were due to the rapid deceleration of

the lever, and he believed that

reducing the mass of the lever would

cause the forces to be reduced. Sinee

'

F = ma. and since the density of

aluminum is approximately one third

that of steel, the mass (m) would be

decreased, and the force (F) would also be reduced

to about one third of what was experienced with the

steel lever. In his heart, the engineer knew this

would solve the binding problem. Or, as 1 like to

say, the engineer was "madly in love with the low

density of aluminum."

Unfortunately, he had failed to recognize that with

the change to aluminum, another material property

was also being changed, namely the modulus of

elasticity (E). As we showed in the example of the

cantilevered beam, it is the modulus of elasticity

that stiffens a member. So while the driving force

would be reduced with an aluminum lever, the

resistance to the force would be proportionately

reduced as well. The ehange from cast steel to

aluminum would produce no benefit. Again,

engineering equations and mathematics provided the

cold., hard facts to challenge one's heart.

If the load caused by inertia is estimated to

increase linearly from zero at the pivot to a

maximum value at the end, and if L represents the

half length of the lever (i.e., the distance from the

pivot to the pinned end), then the deflection of the

lever can be estimated from the following

relationship:

www.weldingmag.com

A=

11

60EI

Blodgett's Basics

Material

Density (5)

(lbs/in^)

Modulus of

Elasticity (E)

(psi)

Ratio of density

to modulus

(5/E)

Ratio of 6/E to

that of steel

Steel

0.283

29(10^)

0.976(10'^)

1.00

Aluminum

0.0975

10.3(10^)

0.947(10-^*

0.97

Magnesium

0.0628

6.5(10^)

0.966(10"^)

0.99

Table 1

, and f ^ mA (where A is the cross-sectional area of

the lever), then the following estimate of deflection

due to deceleration is obtained:

comparing those of the original cast steel lever to

those of the proposed ahiminum lever. Magnesium

has been added for comparison. The table shows

that 5/E is essentially the same for all three

JISALaL'*

materials. Thus, a change in material would not

A =

120EI

help.

120IE

The only way to reduce the deflection of the lever

Since acceleration (a) and the length (L) are fixed, was to reduce A/l, or using the inverse, to maximize

then the deflection is proportional to the cross- I/A. The challenge therefore, was to reduce A more

sectional area (A) and the density (6), and inversely than 1 was reduced. As shown in Figure 3, holes

proportional to the modulus of elasticity (E) and the were created in the lever, reducing the cross

moment of inertia (I). Two of these are related to the sectional area A more than the moment of inertia I

section (A and I) and two are material related (5 and was reduced.

E). To reduce deflection due to inertial loads, either

So the moral of our story is: "Don't design with

5/E or A/I or both must be reduced.

your heart."

PROPERTY OF

THE SECTION^

PROPERTY OF

'THE MATERIAL

Omer W. Blodgett. ScD,, P.E.. senior design consultant with The Lincoln Electric Co.. struck hi.s first arc

on hi.\ grandfalher 's welder at the age often. He is the

author of Design of Welded Structures and Design of

Weldments, and an internationally recognized expert

in the field of weld design. In 1999. Blodgett was

named one of the "Top 125 People of the Past 125

Years " bv Engineering News Record. Blodgett may he

reached at (216) 383-2225.

www.weldifigmag.com

April 2007

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