Scissor Mechanisms

Scissor mechanisms are very common for lifting and stabilizing platforms. A variety of manlifts, service platforms and cargo lifts utilize this visually simple but structurally complex mechanism.

Figure 1 Torero Cabin Service Truck Scissor Mechanism was chassis mounted and lifted the cabin to service aircraft

My introduction to scissor mechanisms came in 1979, with my employment at the then CochranWestern Corporation. A pair of scissor lift mechanisms was used on the aircraft cargo loaders. The aft scissor stabilized the 15,000 Lb cargo from a low height of 20” to the maximum height of 144”. The forward scissor lifted and stabilized the forward platform with the operator and the 15,000 Lb load; the lift range was 70” to 218”. The typical scissor is comprised of an inner and outer section. The inner scissor is comprised of a pair of longitudinal arms and one or more lateral beams. One end of the longitudinal arms is pinned to either the chassis or platform, while the other end of the arms pushes against the platform or chassis with a roller or slider mechanism. The mid-point of the longitudinal arms is the location of the pivot between the inner and outer sections. The outer section is comprised of a pair of longitudinal arms, which are similar to the inner section, but the outer arms are typically not structurally connected. The outer arms pin to either the platform or chassis, which the inner’s are not pinned and push against the opposite frame. If the scissors just stabilize the platform, then the platform is lifted by an external mechanism. When the scissors lift and stabilize the platform, then a means within the scissor mechanism causes the scissors to rotate and, thus, lift/lower the platform. The scissor mechanism does not analyze readily with hand calculations because it often has multiple load paths; further, certain loads are dependent upon deflection and constraints. The following cursory analysis is directed towards the inner scissor section.

Scott Moore

Page 1 of 12

March 10, 2011

846 Lb) loads are applied. scissors don’t often attain even 60 degree of rotation. a typical inner scissor is shown. the connection supports forces in the three orthogonal directions but moment loads are not supported.00”) or force (Fz = -317. Position 1 along the scissor arm is the “pinned’ connection. thus. Position 9 of the scissor is the mid-point of the arm and. For this analysis. considered the center pivot location. the Z axis is “up”. The “roller” end of the second arm is free to move. Scott Moore Page 2 of 12 March 10. the scissor arms are 160” long and the width is 50”. the scissors are rotated about the “pinned” end (location 1) and the X axis through an angle of 60 degrees. Figure 2 Basic Inner Scissor Section Lateral Beam in Location 9 (Center Pivot) The global X-Y-Z axis orientation is shown in Figure 2. For modeling purposes.25” wall square tube. The X axis is lateral to the scissor arm. Position 17 of the scissor arm is the “roller” end of the arm. For this analysis. For geometry considerations. For the first analyses.In Figure 2. only a vertical (Z axis) reaction force is supported by one of the longitudinal arms. The cross section of the arms and the cross tube is a 6” x 6” x 0. this second arm “roller” is where deflection (Z= -1. 2011 . For purposes of this study.

instead of constant deflection.50 2. when the scissors are at the 0 degree rotation position. This is because the load is increasingly directed along the axis of the scissor arm.00 0. Scott Moore Page 3 of 12 March 10. the scissors become increasingly stiff.0” is applied to the free end of the scissor arm.00 2.846 Lb. The Reaction Force is 317. 3. The Ratio (Reaction Force. as the arm is rotated.50 1. Figure 4 shows the results of the analyses but for constant load. As anticipated. 1. Lateral Beam Torsion and Scissor Arm Bending Moment) is determined relative to the value when the scissor is in the down (0 degree) position. Load Ratio Relative to the Load at 0 Degree Scissor Arm Rotation Scissor Arm Relative Loads Constant Deflection of 1" 6" x 6" x 0.50 0.00 3.0” Constant Deflection Figure 3 shows the results of the analyses.25" Wall Square Tube 4.50 4. The Reaction Force is the force required to provide the vertical deflection of 1.00” 2. a deflection of Z = -1.Rotation of the Inner Scissor Arm With the Lateral Beam Located at the Center Pivot The first sequence of analyses is of the basic inner scissor arm with the lateral beam located at the center pivot.00 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 Scissor Arm Rotation from Horizontal Reaction Force Ratio Lateral Beam Torsion Ratio Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio Figure 3 Rotation of Basic Inner Scissor Arm Z = -1. As the inner scissor arm is rotated up in 5 degree increments.50 3. 2011 .00 1.

60 0.80 0.846 Lb Constant Load Scott Moore Page 4 of 12 March 10.00 0.00 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 Scissor Arm Rotation from Horizontal Lateral Beam Torsion Ratio Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio Reaction Force Ratio Figure 4 Rotation of Basic Inner Scissor Arm FZ = -317.25" Wall Square Tube 1.20 1. 2011 .40 0.Load Ratio Relative to the Load at 0 Degree Scissor Arm Rotation Scissor Arm Relative Loads Constant Load 6" x 6" x 0.20 0.

With the lateral beam shifted to Positions 1 or 17 (ends of the scissor arms). 5. For a single lateral beam at various positions. 4. With constant deflection. With the lateral beam shifted to Positions 1 or 17 (ends of the scissor arms). the scissor arm bending moment maximum is located between Positions 4 and 5 and Positions 13 and 14. the scissor arm bending moment increased by 100% relative to the Position 9 bending moment. the scissor arm bending moment increased. Figure 5 Basic Inner Scissor Arm Lateral Beam in Location 1 Figure 6 shows the analyses results for the scissor arm in the 0 degree (down) position. the deflection increased by 71% relative to the Position 9 deflection. 3. 2.Basic Inner Scissor Arm With a Single Lateral Beam at Various Positions The next series of analyses is for a basic inner scissor arm but the single lateral beam was located at various positions along the length of the scissor arm. 2011 . Scott Moore Page 5 of 12 March 10. the deflection increased. As the lateral beam was shifted away from Position 9 (center pivot) with constant load. As the lateral beam was shifted away from the Position 9 (center pivot). 1.

25" Wall Square Tube 2.00 1.00 0.846 Lb Constant Load Figure 6 Basic Inner Scissor Arm Lateral Beam in Locations 1-17 Constant Deflection and Constant Force Scott Moore Page 6 of 12 March 10.50 0. 2011 .846 Lb Constant Load Deflection for 317.50 2.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Lateral Beam Location Reaction Force Ratio for 1" Constant Deflection Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio for Constant Deflection Scissor Arm Bending Moment for 317.Ratios Based Upon Lateral Beam in Position 9 Effect of Scissor Lateral Beam Location Constant Deflection and Constant Force 6" x 6" x 0.50 1.

5. To provide a reference to previous analyses.54. the data from this analysis was used as the basis for the Ratio calculations. The scissor was loaded with a vertical force. is less than half that of the single lateral beam. I included the analysis for a single lateral beam. Scott Moore Page 7 of 12 March 10. Figure 7 Inner Scissor Shown with Lateral Tubes at Positions 1 and 9 Figure 8 shows the analyses results for the scissor arm in the 0 degree (down) position. at Position 9. which was located at Position 9. The torsion of the lateral beam.Inner Scissor Arm with Two Lateral Beams Lateral Beams at Position 9 and Other Locations The next analyses set is for an inner scissor with lateral cross tubes located at Position 9 (center pivot) and a second lateral beam located at various other locations. 4. The maximum bending moment of the scissor arm is not affected by the location of the lateral beams. 3. the torsion of the second beam approaches the torsion of the lateral beam. the deflection Ratio increased from 0. 2. 2011 . The deflection Ratio is significantly less than for a single lateral beam. As the second lateral beam is moved from Position 1 to Position 8 (Position 17 to Position 10). 1. further. For this set of scissors with a lateral beam at Position 9 and a second lateral beam at various positions. which was at Position 9. As the second lateral beam is moved from Position 1 to Position 8 (Position 17 to Position 10).32 to 0.

20 0.1.80 0.20 Ratio Relative to Lateral Beam Position 09 1. 2011 .40 0.00 Lateral Beam Position 9 Torsion Ratio Lateral Beam Various Positions Torsion Ratio Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio Myy Deflection Ratio 0.00 LBP09 LBP 10 Lateral Beam Position Figure 8 Inner Scissor with Lateral Tubes at Positions 9 and Various Other Positions Constant Force Scott Moore Page 8 of 12 LBP 17 LBP 01 LBP 02 LBP 03 LBP 04 LBP 05 LBP 06 LBP 07 LBP 08 LBP 11 LBP 12 LBP 13 LBP 14 LBP 15 LBP 16 March 10.60 0.

09 to 0. which was located at Position 9.11 to 0.26. The torsion ratio of the lateral beams increases from 0.39. As the lateral beams are moved towards the center pivot.17 to 0. Figure 10 shows an overview of the results of the analyses.846 Lb was applied to the scissor for a constant load. 1. A vertical force of FZ = -317. 3. The scissor arm torsion ratio increases from 0. Scott Moore Page 9 of 12 March 10. this provides the reference for the Ratio calculation and relationship to the previous analyses.13 to 0.46. The scissor was loaded with a vertical force. Figure 9 Inner Scissor Shown with Lateral Tubes at Positions 1 and 17 As in the previous analyses. I included the configuration with a single lateral beam.00. 2011 . 4. then increases to 1.11. The deflection ratio increases from 0. The scissor arm bending moment initially decreases from 0. 2. then.Inner Scissor Arm with Two Lateral Beams Lateral Beams Symmetrically Located The final analyses set is for an inner scissor with a pair of lateral cross tubes located symmetrically relatively to Position 9 (center pivot).

20 0.60 0.00 0.20 Ratio Based Upon Lateral Beam Position 9 1.80 0.00 LBP 01 LBP 02 LBP 03 LBP 04 LBP 05 LBP 06 LBP 07 LBP 08 Scissor Lateral Beam Location Lateral Beam Torsion Ratio Scissor Arm Torsion Ratio Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio Myy Deflection Ratio Figure 10 Inner Scissor with Symmetrically Located Lateral Tubes Constant Force Scott Moore Page 10 of 12 March 10.40 0.Scissor Arm Force and Moment Ratios Pair of Lateral Beams Located Symmetrically about the Scissor Center Pivot 6" x 6" x 0.25" Wall Square Tube 1. 2011 .

60 0. these two factors have significant impact upon the structural deflection and stress.Conclusion The location and the quantity of the lateral beam(s) are very important to the function of a scissor mechanism. Inner Scissor Arm Concept Comparison Deflection Ratio Ratio of Deflection Relative to Position 9 1.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Single Lateral Beam . As shown in Figures 11.40 1. 12 and 13.80 1.60 1.80 0.20 1.40 0.00 0.Position 9 and Various Other Positions Two Lateral Beams Symmetrical About Position 9 Scissor Arm Position Figure 11 Inner Scissor Arm Concept Deflection Comparison Scott Moore Page 11 of 12 March 10. 2011 .Various Positions Two Lateral Beams .20 0.

00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Single Lateral Beam .Position 9 and Various Other Positions Two Lateral Beams Symmetrical About Position 9 Scissor Arm Position Figure 13 Inner Scissor Arm Concept Lateral Beam Torsion Comparison Scott Moore Page 12 of 12 March 10.00 1.Position 9 and Various Other Positions Two Lateral Beams Symmetrical About Position 9 Scissor Arm Position Figure 12 Inner Scissor Arm Concept Scissor Arm Bending Moment Comparison Inner Scissor Arm Concept Comparison Lateral Beam Torsion Ratio Ratio of Lateral Beam Torsion Relative to Position 9 1.20 0.00 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Single Lateral Beam .00 0. 2011 .Various Positions Two Lateral Beams .Ratio of Scissor Arm Bending Moment Relative to Position 9 Inner Scissor Arm Concept Comparison Scissor Arm Bending Moment Ratio 2.50 2.Various Positions Two Lateral Beams .50 1.80 0.20 1.