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Question:
How does shape effect the strength of an I-beam?



Replies:
On a bar, when a force is pushing on it, the top part of the bar (beam) is compressed and the bottom part is stretched. There is a neutral layer between these two that is not under stress due to compression or stretching. This layer is contributing very little to the support of the force pushing on the beam. If some of that layer is removed, it will not significantly reduce the strength of the beam, but it will reduce the mass of the beam thereby increasing its efficiency.

A good reference on this is: Paul Hewitt, Conceptual Physics, 3rd edition (1997), Addison Wesley, pp 264-266.

Nathan A. Unterman



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