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Buckling of column is a common issue in civil engineering especially in structural design

process. The critical load of a column is usually determined when buckling occurs.
Buckling of column is caused by imperfections in column or the overloading upon the
column. This experiment was designed with the objectives to determine the theoretical
predictions when the columns start to buckle and how to increase their critical load. It was
assumed that the longer the columns, the easier the column to buckle. Another assumption
was made that the increasing ratio of the columns would decrease their critical stress. The
experiment was set up and the hand wheel is turned to increase the critical compressive
load on the column. For the result we obtained from the experiment, the experimental value
obtained is different from the theoretical value obtained. So, we can conclude that it is
important to determine the buckling load of a column in a real building industry.
Column is a straight slender member subjected to an axial compressive load. For a
relatively short member, the column will remain unchanged when loaded, and failure will
occur by yielding of the material. However, if the member is long, a different type of
behaviour will be observed. Buckling of column will occur when the compressive load
which is a critical load act upon the column. Buckling is a bending action in which the
lateral deflection will become very large with a little increase in load. It also can occur even
if the maximum stress in the column less than the yield stress of the column. The buckling
of the column is affected by the physical properties of material, column length, moment of
inertia of a cross-section and the end conditions. The objectives of the experiment are to
determine the relationship between the critical load and the types of end conditions.
Through this experiment, we also can find out that the length of strut will affect the
buckling of the column. We have use the standard code as stated in the laboratory to carry
out this experiment. Three different length of struts which is 320mm, 370mm and 520mm
of aluminium struts are being tested in this experiment. The significance of this study is to
let us know how critical the impact caused by the failure or collapse of column due to
buckling of column. So, it is very important for us to know the relationship between the
critical load and the length of column. In addition, the types of end condition is also a factor
that affect the buckling of column.

The long history of buckling theory for structures began with the path breaking
investigation on the buckling of columns by Euler in 1744. The first significant treatment
of plate buckling happened in the 1800s. Based on Kirchhoff assumptions, the stability
equation of plates was derived by Navier in 1822 under lateral load. In 1883, Saint-Venant
modified the equation by including axial edge forces and shearing forces. The modified
equation formed the basis for much of the work on stability of plates with various loads
and boundary conditions. The most basic form of plate buckling problem is a simply
supported plate under uniaxial compression. In 1891, Bryan gave the first solution for the
problem by using the energy method to obtain the values of the critical loads. He assumed
that the deflection surface of the buckled plate could be represented by a double Fourier
series. In 1925, Timoshenko used another method to solve the problem. He assumed that
the plate buckled into several sinusoidal half waves in the direction of compression.
Formulations of the equations that determine the state of deformation at which the buckling
starts, that is, the so-called state of neutral equilibrium, critical state or initial buckling state,
appeared in the theory of elasticity in the beginning of the twentieth century (for e.g. by
von Karman in 1910).

For Part 1,
1. The bottom chuck is fitted to the machine and the top chuck is removed (to give two
pinned ends). Then, a strut with a certain length is selected and the cross section is
measured using the Venier callipers provided and the moment of Inertia is calculated.
2. The position of the sliding crosshead is adjusted to accept the strut using the thumbnut
to lock off the slider. Then, a maximum amount of travel is ensured to enable the hand
wheel threat to compress the strut. Finally, the locking screw is tightened gently.
3. The handwheel is back off carefully so that the strut is resting in the notch but not
transmitting any load. The force meter is adjusted to zero using the front panel knob.
4. The strut is loaded carefully. If the strut begins to buckle to the left, flick the strut to
the right and vice versa (this reduces any error associated with the straightness of strut).
Then, the handwheel is turned until there is no further increase in load (the load may
peak and then drop as it settles in the notches).

For Part 2,
1. To study the effect of end conditions, the procedures in Part 1 is then repeated by
changing end conditions. The bottom chuck is removed and the specimen is clamped
using cap head screw and plate to make a fixed-pinned end condition. While, the
specimen is clamped at both end to make a fixed end condition.
2. Then, the procedures above is then repeated using different length of struts.
3. The result is recorded in table and the values of 1/L2 are calculated for the struts.
a) Fixed-fixed End
1 0.322 191 9.6447 299.50
2 0.371 153 7.2653 225.61
3 0.522 94 3.6699 113.97
Table 1
b) Pinned-pinned End
1 0.322 59 9.6447 74.88
2 0.371 45 7.2653 56.40
3 0.522 19 3.6699 28.49
Table 2
c) Fixed-pinned End
1 0.322 101 9.6447 152.81
2 0.371 75 7.2653 115.11
3 0.522 30 3.6699 58.15
Table 3
Width and Thick of the Strut:
Reading Width, b (m) Thick, d (m)
1 19.00 × 10 1.95 × 10-3
2 19.50 × 10-3 1.89 × 10-3
3 19.50 × 10-3 1.92 × 10-3
Average 19.33 × 10-3 1.92 × 10-3
Table 4
Given, Ealuminium = 69 GNm-2
= 69 × 109 Nm-2
Width, b = 19.75 × 10-3 m
Thick, d = 2.05 × 10-3 m
From equation, I =
(19.33×10−3 )(1.92×10−3 )3
= 1.14 × 10−11 𝑚4
Derivation of Euler’s equation

𝐸𝐼𝑦 ′′ = 𝑀 = −𝑃𝑦
𝐸𝐼𝑦 ′′ + 𝑃𝑦 = 0
which has the solution

𝑦 = 𝐴𝑠𝑖𝑛 (√ 𝑥) + 𝐵𝑐𝑜𝑠 (√ 𝑥)
Where A and B are constants determined from the boundary conditions.
When y = 0, x = 0 and x= L
∴ B=0

𝑦 = 𝐴𝑠𝑖𝑛 (√ 𝑥)
𝑦(𝐿) = 𝐴𝑠𝑖𝑛 (√ 𝐿)
During buckling of the column, sin (π) = 0

(√ 𝐿) = π

π2 𝐸𝐼
𝑃𝑐𝑟 =

Table below showing the comparison between experimental and theoretical ratio by end

Type of end conditions Fixed-Fixed Pinned-Pinned Fixed-Pinned

Gradient ratio, n 16.67 12 6.8
Experimental factor, k 0.036 0.00694 0.0216
Theoretical factor, k 0.5 1 0.7

Referring to the results from the calculation, we can conclude that, the different
between the theoretical and experimental results are very big for the three end conditions
which is fixed-fixed, fixed-pinned and pinned-pinned. Thus, the percentage (%) of the
difference between the theoretical and experimental results are obvious and big. After
carrying out the experiment, we observed that the longer length of strut will give us bigger
degree of deflection of the strut but only within a small value of compressive force acted
upon it. While for a shorter length of strut, it will result in smaller degree of deflection and
it requires a larger force for it to buckle.

For the fixed-fixed condition, the factor k in Euler’s formula is 0.5, but the experimental
factor k is 0.036. However, for pinned-pinned condition, the given factor is 1, while the
experimental factor k is 0.00694 which is obviously different from the theoretical value of
factor k. For the fixed-pinned condition, the obtained experimental value of factor k is
0.0216 while the theoretical factor k is 0.7. The difference between the experimental and
theoretical factor k might be due to the systematic error or random error occurred during
the experiment undergo. Systematic error may include the defect of laboratory device or
materials used while random error may be parallax error or error that usually done by the

The buckling of a strut also affected by the cross-section of the strut, type of end
conditions, physical properties such as Modulus of Elasticity of a material being tested and
length of struts.

As a conclusion, we can find out the relationship between the length of strut and
the critical load it can sustain. Besides that, we also learn that the effect of different types
of end condition towards the buckling of the column where in real experiment, we cannot
obtain the exact value of the buckling load as same as the experimental value of buckling
load. Through this laboratory experiment, we also learn that the vital of determination of
the critical load for a column as in a real construction industry, prediction and estimation
of a critical load act toward the column is important in a design and planning process.
Finally, we can conclude that buckling load of column will affected by the length and type
of end conditions of the column. Hence, we need to take into consider the impact of the
buckling of column before any design and planning of building.

R. C. Hibbeler (2000). “Mechanic Of Materials.” 4th. ed. England: Prentice Hall
International, Inc.

AULD D.J. (2010). Buckling of columns. Available:
Last accessed 8th April 2013

Civil Engineering Lectures. (2013). Buckling of columns.

Buckling-of-a-pinended-column-under-axial-load.jpg. Last accessed 25th Mar 2013