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Equilibrium of a Lamina

If a lamina is in equilibrium under the action of a number of forces the lamina will not move

about any point. This means that if we were to look at the clockwise and anti-clockwise moments of the forces, the algebraic sum would be zero.

It must also be noted that for a lamina in equilibrium;


The resultant forces in any direction must be zero.


The algebraic sum of the moments about any point must be zero.

It is important to remember that one of the main forces acting on a lamina will be its weight.

The weight on the lamina will always act at a very specific place; this is known as the centre of mass of the lamina. If the lamina for example is a uniform rod the centre of mass of the rod

would be at its mid-point.

Example One

A uniform rod AB of length 5m and mass 6kg is pivoted at C where 1.5m. Calculate the

mass of the particle which must be attached at A to maintain equilibrium with the rod horizontal.

1.5m 1m 2.5m

N 6 N 5m
6 N

In this example we will let our unknown weight at A be kg.

Since the rod is uniform its centre of mass will be at its mid-point therefore its weight acts 2.5m from A or 1m from C.

As we are looking to maintain equilibrium, the clockwise and anti-clockwise moments about C

is zero.

If we take moments about C;

moments 6 1 6 Nm

moments 1.5 1.5 Nm

Since these moment forces are in equilibrium;

6 1.5

1.5 6 4kg


Example Two

A uniform beam AB of length 5m and mass 30kg rests horizontally on supports at C and D

which are both 1m from A and B respectively.

A bag of sand of mass 75kg is placed at a point E where 2m.

Calculate the magnitude of the reaction at each of the supports C and D.

1m 1m 0.5m 1.5m 1m

75 N

30 N

In this question we want to find the two values X and Y. To do this we must form two equations

that we can solve simultaneous. The first equation we can get by taking moments about one of the points. The second equation we can get by resolving all the forces vertically.


we take moments about the point C we can form our first equation, we will also remove one


the unknowns (X) and this will give us a value for Y.

Clockwise moments;

Anti-clockwise moments;

Since the beam is in equilibrium;

1 75 1.5 30

120 Nm



120 3

40 392 N

Therefore the reaction at Y is 392 N.


Our second equation is found by resolving the vertical forces. Remember that the forces acting downwards will equal the forces acting upwards.

Resolving vertically gives us;

75 30

1029 N

We can then substitute our already found value of into this equation to find the value of .

392 1029

1029 392

637 N

Therefore the reaction at C and D is 637N and 392N respectively.

In the previous example we were told that the beam was uniform, meaning that the centre of mass of the beam is at its mid-point. When a beam or rod is described as non-uniform it means that the centre of mass can acts at other points other than the mid-point.