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Homework Help: Minimizing the maximum bending moment

  1. Sep 12, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Refer to the attachment provided

    2. Relevant equations

    Just taking force and moment equilibium of whatever component I choose.

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I assumed a uniform force distribution.
    Set the origin at the leftmost end. For [tex]0< x < \frac{L-a}{2}[/tex]
    The shear force acting is [tex]+qx[/tex] and the bending moment is [tex]\frac{-qx^{2}}{2}[/tex]
    Note that the situation is symmetrical w.r.t the centre of the beam.
    Now for [tex]\frac{L-a}{2}< x < L/2[/tex]
    The relevant force equilibrium equation is
    [tex]-qx+\frac{qL}{2}+V=0 \Rightarrow V=qx-\frac{qL}{2}[/tex]
    The bending moment can be similarly found and is given by

    Thus the maxima of the above two moments are
    [tex]\frac{q(L-a)^{2}}{8}[/tex] and [tex]\frac{qL(L-a)}{4}[/tex]

    Both of which give a=L is when it is minimized. That isn't the answer at the back of the book!

    I don't think we should take it as a uniform distribution.

    Attached Files:

    • prob.jpg
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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2010 #2


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    gpavanb: It is a uniformly-distributed load. Is the answer in the back of the book by any chance a = 0.5858*L?
  4. Sep 12, 2010 #3
    Spot On!
  5. Sep 12, 2010 #4
    How did you get it?
  6. Sep 12, 2010 #5


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    If you move the supports too far apart, the midspan moment increases. If you move the supports too close together, the moment somewhere else increases. You want to figure out, at what value of "a" is the maximum moment in the beam as small as possible.
  7. Sep 12, 2010 #6
    That was a vague hint. I got the problem in the mean time though. It was fairly straightforward.[tex]a=\frac{1}{(1+\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}})}L[/tex]
  8. Sep 12, 2010 #7


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    Excellent work, gpavanb, which can be simplified to a = (2 - 2^0.5)*L, by multiplying the numerator and denominator of your answer by the complement, (2^0.5 - 1)/(2^0.5 - 1), which is 1, shown in line 4, below.

    a = L/{1 + [1/(2^0.5)]}
    = L/{[(2^0.5)/(2^0.5)] + [1/(2^0.5)]}
    = (2^0.5)*L/(2^0.5 + 1)
    = [(2^0.5)*L/(2^0.5 + 1)]*[(2^0.5 - 1)/(2^0.5 - 1)]
    = (2^0.5)(2^0.5 - 1)*L/[(2^0.5 + 1)(2^0.5 - 1)]
    = (2 - 2^0.5)*L/(2 + 2^0.5 - 2^0.5 - 1)
    = (2 - 2^0.5)*L/(2 - 1)
    = (2 - 2^0.5)*L
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