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Utilizing The Classical Overhung Beam To Provide A Range Of Design, Analysis, And Test Experiences To An Experimental Mechanics Class

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Innovative Hands-On Projects and Labs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1274.1 - 8.1274.13

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Paper Authors

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William Szaroletta

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1368 Utilizing the Classical Overhung Beam to Provide a Range of Design, Analysis, and Test Experiences to an Experimental Mechanics Class

William K. Szaroletta Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Abstract: The classical overhung beam is widely utilized in product design, machine design, and architectural design. An element of an upper level experimental mechanics class utilizes the overhung beam to provide a rich source for design, analysis, and test experiences.

Although overhung beam theory has been taught at both the lower and upper levels of Purdue University’s Mechanical Engineering Technology curriculum, there has been little opportunity for hands-on experimental and finite element analysis verification of overhung beam theory. To fill that void, several experimental mechanics class projects were devised and successfully implemented by the author and these experiences are documented in this paper.

Introduction: This paper describes a series of reproducible projects, including discussion of the major benefits of utilizing the overhung beam: flexibly supporting multiple experiments with similar set-ups; providing a relatively simple and effective means towards achieving a repeatable, uniform distributed loading in a laboratory environment (through gravity and beam material density); and providing a relatively low cost platform to support this suite of experiments.

The uniform distributed loading projects described in this paper include a simply-supported beam with the beam supports at the beam extremities, an overhung beam with eight different offset distances provided by beam support placement, and an investigation to analytically and experimentally find the optimal offset distance. These projects provided mechanics students with practical experience with theory, optimal design, solid modeling, finite element analysis (FEA), experiment design, and hands-on testing experience. The results of these experiments, which the students presented to the entire class, demonstrate good correlation among the theory, FEA, and experiment.

Simply Supported and Overhung Beam Theory and Analysis: Analysis of the classical overhung beam is begun with routine analysis of the simply supported beam with a distributed load, w, along the entire length. Mechanics theory is reviewed and Experimental Mechanics students are expected to construct a Loading, Shear, and Moment diagrams as shown in below in Figure 1. These same students are introduced to the subject by being able to visualize deflection through the utilization of an 0.5” thick by 2” wide by 96” long Aluminum test beam. Instructor demonstration that a simply supported beam can be converted to an overhung beam by moving the supports towards the center of the beam in unison shows graphically how the overhung part reduces the center deflection; an event that clues the students to the fact that the stress could possibly be less at this midpoint location as well.

From a design of experiment point of view, application of loads can require extra weights or equipment. Providing a uniform distributed load with external weights or equipment can be

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Szaroletta, W. (2003, June), Utilizing The Classical Overhung Beam To Provide A Range Of Design, Analysis, And Test Experiences To An Experimental Mechanics Class Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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