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Abstract

This experiment used strain gauges along a cantilever beam to explore properties
such as stress, strain and tip deflection as different loads are supplied to the tip.
Comparing the results of this experiment reveals that the experimental values were
marginally higher than the theoretical values calculated. This experiment was able
to show its usefulness in exploring properties of how loads affect beams, as well as
how to apply strain gauges in the industry.
Purpose
This lab will be used to familiarize students with the use of strain gauges. In doing
so, students will study and compare the theoretical and experimental results of
stresses on the cantilever beam.
Apparatus

Cantilever beam
Strain indicator

Figure 1: Cantilever Beam Experiment Setup

Procedure
1. Measure the distances of the strain gauges through the cantilever beam, as
well as the length of the cross-sectional geometry of the beam
2. The maximum allowable load was calculated using the maximum allowable
stress.
3. The strain indicator was turned on an each strain channel was balanced.
4. Starting at 2 lb load, the strain displayed by each gauge as well as the tip
deflections was recorded. Increasing the increments of the load by 2 lb was
continued until 10 lb was reached.

Observations
Table 1: Beam Geometry and Properties
Beam Length
Beam Width
Beam Height
Distance from wall to Gauge 1
Distance from wall to Gauge 2
Distance from wall to Gauge 3
Poissons Ratio
Modulus of Elasticity
Maximum allowable Stress

10 in
1 in
0.25 in
1 in
4 in
7 in
0.32
10.4 Msi
10 ksi

Table 2: Strain Gauge Recordings

Experiment
[lb]
2
4
6
8
10

Strain Gauge
1 []

Strain Gauge
2 []

Strain Gauge
3 []

177
349
517
693
865

113
214
341
449
560

50
109
160
209
274

Top
Deflection
[in]
0.067
0.126
0.184
0.224
0.301

Calculations
*Note, all sample calculations are done for Load = 2 lb , results are tabulated in
tables 3 and 4
Table 3: Theoretical Stress and Deflection

Theoretical
Stress Gauge
1 [ksi]

Theoretical
Stress Gauge
2 [ksi]

Theoretical
Stress Gauge
3 [ksi]

2
4
6
8
10

1.728
3.456
5.184
6.912
8.64

1.152
2.304
3.456
4.608
5.76

1.576
1.152
1.728
2.304
2.88

Theoretical
Tip
Deflection
[in]
0.0492
0.0985
0.1477
0.1969
0.2462

Theoretical
Strain Gauge
1 [in/in]
0.000166
0.000332
0.000498
0.000664
0.000831

2
4
6
8
10

Theoretical
Strain Gauge
2 [in/in]
0.000111
0.000222
0.000332
0.000443
0.000554

For moment of Inertia

I =b h

I =(1)(0.25)3
I =1.30208103 4
3 4

I =1.3010

10000

lb Fdc
=
I
2
10

lb
10000 ) ( 1.3020810
(

F=

3 4

F=10.4166 lb
F=10.42lb
Theoretical deflection

v max =

P L3
3 EI

Theoretical
Strain Gauge
3 [in/in]
0.000055
0.000111
0.000166
0.000221
0.000277

10

( 2 lb )
v max =
v max =0.493
Theoretical Stress at Gauge 1

1=

F ( Ld ) c
I

101

0.125

( 2 lb )
1=
1=1.728

kip
2

Theoretical Stress at Gauge 2

2=

F ( Ld ) c
I

104

0.125

( 2 lb )
2=
2=1.152
Theoretical Stress at Gauge 3

kip
2

3=

F ( Ld ) c
I

107

0.125

( 2lb )
3=
3 =0.577

kip
2

Theoretical Strain at Gauge 1

1=

1
E

kip
2
1=
10.4 Msi
1.728

1=1.664
Theoretical Strain at Gauge 2

2 =

2
E

kip
2
2 =
10.4 Msi
1.152

2 =1.114
Theoretical Strain at Gauge 3

3 =

3
E

kip
2
3 =
10.4 Msi
0.577

3 =5.555
Graph 1: Tip Deflection vs. Load

Tip Deflection Vs. Load

0.35
0.3
0.25
0.2
Tip Deflection [in]

Theoretical

0.15

Actual

0.1
0.05
0
0

0 0.010.010.010.010.010.010.01

10
8
6
Stress [kip/in2

Theoretical
Actual

4
2
0
0

Strain [in/in]

7
6
5
Stress [kip/in2]

Theoretical

Actual

2
1
0
0

Strain [in/in]

Stress Vs. Strain for Gauge 3

3.5
3
2.5
2
Stress [kip/in2]

Theoretical

1.5

Actual

1
0.5
0
0

Strain [in/in]

Discussion
After comparing the results of stress and strain to both the theoretical and
experimental values, it is evident that the data are very similar and the experiment
was done accurately. Graph 1, exhibited the most variance, which showed that the
tip deflection of the experimental values were higher than the theoretical values
calculated. On the other hand, the theoretical and experimental values for the
stress vs. strain graphs had nearly identical values for slope. This slope is the
modulus of elasticity, and because the values for stress and strain were so similar, it
shows the data obtained and calculated were correct.
The discrepancies that occurred in this experiment came from the balancing of the
channels. Some channels were not completely zeroed. Therefore, since we are
dealing with micro strain, the order of magnitude is so minute that the deviations
are higher. Furthermore, the values indicated by the strain indicator always
fluctuated between values. Next time, taking more readings and averaging the
values would probably give a more accurate experiment, but this is probably not
needed since the experiment was already very accurate to begin with.
Conclusion
This lab helped students understand how stress and strain acts at various points
along a cantilever beam using strain gauges, by comparing values calculated to
values obtained through calculation. Comparing the values showed that showed
that there was very little error in this experiment because the values were so
similar. The point where the tip deflection was the greatest was the location of the
higher strain. When a different force was applied to the beam, it changed the
distribution along the beam varying the value in the strain gauges. This was an
effective method to help students understand the concept of strain gauges.