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Statics For Dummies by James H. Allen, III, PE, PhD

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Chapter 10. Spreading It Out: Understanding Distributed Loads

When you throw a small object such as a golf ball at a wall, the force the ball makes onto the wall (and of course the force that the wall makes onto the ball) acts on a very small area. In many cases, you idealize this force as a concentrated load (which I cover in Chapter 9) because the force is concentrated onto a small area. But what happens when you throw a larger object (such as your malfunctioning TV) with the same force at the same wall? In this case, the area of the force when it meets the wall is spread out and is therefore no longer concentrated. This type of force is known as a distributed force and has several unique properties that you need to remember.

In this chapter, I discuss distributed loads in detail and show you how to calculate their total combined effect. I also reveal how you can consider self weight (see Chapter 9) as a distributed load as well.

Getting a Handle on Some Distributed Load Vocab

A distributed load is a load that doesn't act at a point but rather is spread out over a specified length. Because distributed forces are spread out over the entire section, they have some properties you want to be aware of: intensity, start point, and end point.

  • Intensity: The intensity of a distributed ...

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