A “Second Law” for Structures: An Insightful Approach to the Design of Plane Frames

[+] Author and Article Information
M. J. French

Department of Engineering, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YR, UK

J. Appl. Mech 66(3), 738-741 (Sep 01, 1999) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2791688 History: Received February 11, 1998; Revised February 14, 1999; Online October 25, 2007


This paper introduces a new aid to the design of economical plane structures, based on the twin concepts of structural task , which is an invariant for a given load system and given constraints on where material may be placed, and (absolute) pertinacity , which is the product of force and member length. An optimum (Michell) structure has task equal to pertinacity for every element of every member. The ratio u of task to pertinacity is unity everywhere in an optimum structure, and constitutes a utility factor: u may be negative for a member, that is, it is possible for a member to increase the task to be borne by the rest of the structure. A parallel is drawn with First and Second Law analysis in thermodynamics.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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