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Tower out of paper that would support a textbook

  1. Sep 26, 2015 #1
    Hello :) I was assigned a project yesterday and have been struggling with it trying to find my perfect measurements... I have to create a tower out of paper that would support a textbook
    My materials are paper and glue. My paper may be as long as I want but no wider than 1 inch, I currently have eighty 1 inch strips of paper. Also, the final product cannot weigh any more than 45 grams. The mission of this project is to try to get my structure to 12 inches in height. Any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Have you considered folding it the long way?
  4. Sep 26, 2015 #3
    If I were to attempt this project I would investigate and most likely construct vertical cylindrical pillars of paper (most likely multilayered, glue sheets to each other) to support the textbook.

    Edit: make these hollow.
  5. Sep 26, 2015 #4
    Yes, I have. But, I just wasn't sure how I would connect all of my folded pieces together for support.
  6. Sep 26, 2015 #5
    Oh! I see! Thank you :)
  7. Sep 26, 2015 #6
    How much does the book weigh?
  8. Sep 26, 2015 #7
    About 3.5 lbs
  9. Sep 26, 2015 #8


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    Science Advisor

    The cardboard tube in the middle of a toilet roll is made from long strips of paper. Take one apart to find out how it is done.

    You might make a slightly tapered tube by helically winding glued strips onto a former or “mandrel”. If it is tapered it will slide off more easily. You might be able to find a plastic bottle or tube with the right shape, if it is not tapered then it could be crushed or broken to remove it once the glue has set. Fill it with water to maintain its shape during fabrication. Once it is made, if it is over weight, put it in an oven to dry. Most of the weight will be water.
  10. Sep 27, 2015 #9
    Triangular pyramid structures would also be quite stable.
  11. Sep 28, 2015 #10


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    Flat faces will buckle under load. Any structure with flat faces will transfer the load to the corners which may then progressively collapse due to the total load. For maximum strength per weight all vertical lines on the surface should be straight so as to avoid buckling. But any horizontal plane section through the structure should have curved faces to prevent buckling. The tighter the radius of curvature the stronger the structure will be.

    The simplest structure that meets those constraints is a cylindrical tube. A more complex, but stronger surface would be a cylinder with many corrugations in the surface running parallel with the axis. The corrugations will have tighter curvature than the cylinder. If a corrugated cylinder had an external surface layer added, it would be more like corrugated cardboard tube, a structure that is very strong in the direction of the corrugations.
  12. Sep 28, 2015 #11
    For further information on this, OP, research properties of plane areas and radius of gyration specifically.
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